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Indiana officials promote new alcohol amnesty law on college campuses

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 1:19 pm

BLOOMINGTON — State officials have started visiting Indiana college campuses to promote a new law that shields people from alcohol-related arrests if they seek medical help for those who are dangerously intoxicated.

The law took effect in July, but Attorney General Greg Zoeller and state Sen. Jim Merritt say many young people don't know about it. They made stops at Indiana University in Bloomington and Indiana State University in Terre Haute on Monday to spread the word, and the attorney general's office said more similar campus visits are expected this fall.

Merritt, who sponsored the law during this year's legislative session, said tragedies such as the August death of an 18-year-old in Carmel from alcohol poisoning could be prevented if friends call for help, The Herald-Times and the Tribune-Star reported.

"Those who cooperate and stay with the ill patient and talk with the police officer and make sure that person gets the care that he or she needs, they are granted immunity," said Merritt, R-Indianapolis.

The new amnesty law comes at a time when Indiana Excise Police are in the midst of an effort to crack down on underage drinking at college campuses across the state. The agency's Intensified College Enforcement program recorded 110 arrests among tailgaters at the Sept. 14 Indiana-Ball State football game and 99 citations at the Sept. 22 Notre Dame-Michigan game.

Merritt and Zoeller said the amnesty law isn't meant to excuse underage drinking but to save lives.

"It's about doing the right thing," Zoeller said. "Doing nothing is not the right thing."