State representatives spread word about lifeline law

Dennis Marshall

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller speaking to students on campus

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller speaking to students on campus

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and State Senator Jim Merritt spoke on campus Oct. 23, to raise awareness for the Indiana Lifeline Law, which protects young people from criminal repercussion when they are seeking help for alcohol-related medical emergencies.

The law protects young people from the charges of public intoxication, minor possession, minor consumption and minor transport.

Zoeller wants students to be leaders in their community, he said to a crowd of about 50 people inside the Business and Engineering Center.

“Most students aren’t going to listen to the Attorney General or a State Senator, but people will listen to their friend,” he said.

Zoeller said he thought the bill would be killed by the prosecutors, but to their credit, they made a compromise and the bill was passed.

“It was a student-ran initiative that was passed without a single no vote. Not a single objection,” Zoeller said. “It has saved lives already, and it will save more,” Merritt said to the crowd. “Attorney General Zoeller and I are here to avoid more tragedies.”

He said he didn’t want it to sound like they were encouraging underage drinking, but this was a common-sense law.

Merritt said he authorized the bill because the students who came and talked to him were so passionate about it.

“They are very professional, and they made good points. They had made their own arrangements with their own law enforcement and they thought it should go statewide,” he said. “After thinking about it for a little while, I felt it was the right thing to do.”

Student Government Association President Zack Mathis said USI will create a video to raise awareness of the Lifeline Law, following in the footsteps of Indiana University and Purdue University.

“Members in our general assembly found it and thought it would be great to have students of the USI community speak to the other students promoting the highlights of what this law is and how it can protect the students,” Mathis said.

He said he wants to see the video included in orientation sessions for every incoming freshman.

“It’s something that every student should know about,” Mathis said.