Any intoxicated minors calling for help in a medical emergency will be immune to criminal prosecution. It’s spelled out in the Indiana Lifeline Law, which carries protections for minors drinking, transporting and possessing alcohol.
Though the Lifeline Law is not new, freshman IUSA intern Olivia Malone said she fears unfounded hearsay regarding the law may keep people from calling police in a situation.
“I just know that coming onto this campus and going to the IUSA orientation and having Culture of Care talk, we had a lot of questions and a lot of them were really valid,” Malone said.
After several weeks of planning, IUSA has launched a campaign via social media and speaking tours to help expel common uncertainties about the law.
“It’s important to talk about before Halloween obviously,” Malone said. “Because it’s going to be a crazy weekend, and just in general because, from a freshman perspective, if you tell people this is how it works, they can spread that around to their freshmen friends.”
According to IU Police Department Lt. Andy Stephenson, the Lifeline Law prohibits arrest and prosecution for public intoxication, minor alcohol possession, minor alcohol consumption and minor alcohol transportation as long as those making the call to police stay on the scene and fully cooperate with officers.
If those at the scene refuse to cooperate with officers and become disorderly, they may be arrested on a separate charge.
The Lifeline Law does not offer protections for providing alcohol to minors, operating vehicles while intoxicated or possessing a controlled substance.
“It’s only alcohol,” junior IUSA chief of staff Sara Zaheer said. ”We want people to call, but we don’t want people to expect to be protected for drugs.”
While the Lifeline Law currently does not provide immunity for drug-induced issues, it was recently revised in July to provide immunity to intoxicated minors when reporting an instance of sexual assault.
Stephenson said IUPD had similar procedures before the Lifeline Law.
“Lifeline Law had absolutely no impact on the Indiana University Police Department,” Stephenson said. “None, because that’s the way we operated anyway. If somebody calls for help, we’re not going to arrest them.”
Stephenson advised students use common sense during Halloween weekend like removing masks when walking, driving or entering a store or business.
“Just be responsible,” Stephenson said. “If you’re at parties and you go to a party with a group, leave the party with the same group.”
He also warned students not to take drinks from strangers and to drive safely, as pedestrian traffic will be heavier this weekend.
In reference to Halloween weekend, Zaheer urged students to keep the Lifeline Law in mind.
“Just make the call,” Zaheer said. “Look after your friends and yourself and have fun.”