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Advocates celebrate 10 years of Indiana's Lifeline law, with eye towards expansion

Indiana’s Lifeline law, which has now been in effect for 10 years, has reportedly helped save dozens of lives.

And its champions want to see it expanded in the upcoming legislative session.

The Lifeline law provides immunity from underage drinking charges if a minor seeks emergency help for themselves or someone else.

Dallas Gaines is with the University of Indianapolis police. He said the law removes a vital barrier to getting people help.

“They can call us," Gaines said. "They can look at us, they can trust us to be a help in the present time. In that panic moment, they know not to hesitate – and we’re coming.”

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Former state Sen. Jim Merritt was the Lifeline law’s author. He said he wants to see the immunity for minors expanded to include drug charges.

“Regardless of if there are needles or any sort of drugs around, they ought to be able to call or text 911 if they see someone overdosing,” Merritt said.

That proposed expansion failed to get any traction in the legislature years ago. It was blocked by committee chair Sen. Mike Young (R-Indianapolis), who objected to the measure on philosophical grounds. But Young is no longer leading a committee, potentially opening a path for the bill.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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