Medical amnesty legislation becomes state law

Jessie Hellmann

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It has become Indiana law that if someone calls for help for an underaged intoxicated friend, the caller will receive some protection if they were drinking illegally, too.

Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the Indiana Lifeline Law March 16, effective July 1, after the bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

USI’s student government, along with student governments from Indiana University and Purdue University worked together to push the bill to the state legislature.

According to the new legislation, the caller cannot be arrested in cases of public intoxication, minor possession, consumption or transportation of alcoholic beverages if they are seeking emergency help for someone else in the same situation. The person he/she is calling for will not be protected under the lifeline law. 

The final bill underwent significant changes from the introduced bill, but USI’s SGA is asking the university to extend the school policy to provide immunity for not just the caller, but the endangered friend also. 

SGA President Jordan Whitledge intends to bring forward a resolution to the SGA general assembly to broaden the university code of conduct to include immunity  for both parties.

“The original bill included not only the person who communicated the emergency, but the person who was in an emergency state,” Schonberger said. “My sense is that there is a hope that there could be some consideration for that student.”

If the General Assembly is in favor of the resolution, SGA will forward it to the university code of conduct committee, then possibly on to both provosts, the university president and the Board of Trustees.

“The feedback that I’ve gotten from legislators who were invovled in the process, and even from the university representatives who are up at the legislature was that the three universities did an outstanding and professional job in presenting their proposal, and taking the time in educating the legislature,” Schonberger said. “Yes, it was modified, but most bills are in some way.”

Whitledge said SGA is very excited the bill passed, especially since it has been a year-long process. 

“It’s a relief that it’s actually finished and over with,” he said. “I know in other states it took almost four years to actually get it through, and we did it in one, so we’re very excited about that.” 

Because the bill was changed, Whitledge plans to put together a proposal to change university policy to protect the caller and the caller’s friends.

The student would not face all punishment, though, and may have to do community service or write a paper, Whitledge said.

Whitledge said bcause of supportive administrators, he believes the policy will pass. 

“We’ve received a lot of support from administrators, so we don’t see a problem with it not being included,” he said. 

Whitledge plans to put together put together a proposal to deliver to the student code of conduct committee within the next two weeks, if the SGA general assembly approves.

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