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Zoeller Set to Promote Lifeline Law for Underage Drinkers

Brandon Smith
Indiana Public Broadcasting

Attorney General Greg Zoeller and State Senator Jim Merritt will be touring Indiana high schools and colleges again this year promoting an expansion to the state’s Lifeline law.

The original Lifeline law provided immunity from underage drinking charges for minors that seek medical attention for other drunk minors. 

Based on feedback from students they talked with in awareness events around the state, Zoeller and Merritt crafted an expansion approved by the General Assembly this year.  The law now provides the same immunity for underage drinkers that seek police or medical help for any reason.  But students who testified at the Statehouse in support of the expansion say awareness of the law is still a major barrier to its effectiveness. 

Zoeller says student involvement in creating the expansion will help increase awareness.

“Not only is this the right thing to do but their voice can be heard in the legislature and they can be leaders among their own peers,” Zoeller said.

Merritt says young people also still have a lack of trust for law enforcement.

“We are doing our very best to make sure that all law enforcement officers, all EMTs, everyone understands this law,” Merritt said. “And it needs to be reinforced with those that are on both sides of the crisis.”

Merritt adds with prom season beginning, he’s going around to high schools to promote Lifeline.  And he and Zoeller are working with colleges to increase awareness of the law during freshman orientations this fall.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.