New legislation co-authored by Senate Democratic Leader Vi Simpson (D-Elletsville) aims to protect the lives of Hoosiers by providing immunity for callers requesting medical assistance for another person who is experience an alcohol-related emergency. Called the “Indiana Lifeline Bill,” Senate Bill (SB) 274 had bipartisan support as it passed out of the Judiciary committee on a 10-0 vote.
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill with an amendment to clarify some points in the bill and to restrict immunity in some cases. Hoosiers who are drinking and driving, possess drugs or are acting disorderly with medical personnel will not receive immunity.
While the bill would not provide immunity for the person in need of emergency help, it would require the prosecuting attorney to withhold prosecution if the individual for whom emergency assistance was sought agrees to a pretrial diversion program. The pretrial diversion program would include completion of an alcohol education programs and 20 hours of community service within 90 days of the the initial hearing. This option would be available for cases that involve a charge of public intoxication or underage possession, consumption, or transportation of an alcoholic beverage.
The Indiana Lifeline Bill has the support of many college student interest groups including Purdue University’s Student Government, Indiana University Student Association and the Hoosier Youth Advocacy. Several Indiana college students were among those who gave testimony in support of the bill during committee.
The legislation now moves on to second reading and will be heard on the Senate floor where any senator can offer amendments to the bill. Next, the bill will be eligible for a final vote in the Senate on third reading. If the bill successfully passes the State Senate, it will move across the rotunda to be considered by the Indiana House.
The act was approved by both chambers and signed into law by the governor, and became effective as state law on July 1, 2012.
Watch Sen. Simpson discuss the Indiana Lifeline bill below.