The 2012 Lifeline Law is geared towards helping save lives by underage drinkers staying out of trouble when reporting an emergency.
Original Source: indystar.com
INDIANAPOLIS – As someone who characterized himself as formerly “young and dumb,” Pat McAfee has a message: You won’t get in trouble in Indiana if you’re a minor and text 911 because a friend has had too much alcohol.
It is a message the state has tried to deliver through its Lifeline Law, passed in 2012. The law provides amnesty from prosecution for underage drinking for a person who calls or texts 911 to report a medical emergency or sexual assault.
The law is credited with saving 38 lives so far. But not everyone knows about it, and the state knows it.
McAfee, 30, the former Pro Bowl punter for the Indianapolis Colts, is part of Indiana’s $100,000 ad and social media campaign to raise awareness of the Lifeline Law. He spoke Monday at a news conference at Barstool Heartland, 935 N. Meridian St., his comedy club just north of the Central Library.
“When kids in high school and kids on college campus see that he’s involved, that will be something that catches a lot of attention,” said state Sen. Jim Merritt, author of the bill.
“And that’s what we need to do, capture attention of kids on college campuses.”
McAfee has stated publicly that the infamous incident of Oct. 20, 2010 – it started in Broad Ripple bars, continued with a swim in the Central Canal and ended with a night in jail — was a wakeup call. He spoke enthusiastically about the Lifeline Law, explaining that causes like this are why he retired from the NFL: To make the world a happier and better place.
“Although I have made some poor decisions in the past, when I was young and dumb, we’re trying to save other people who are a lot like me,” McAfee said.
“I’ve had friends who’ve got alcohol poisoning and have OD’d before. So this really resonates close to my soul.”
Merritt and Indiana Youth Services Association’s Make Good Decisions program have partnered with Indiana’s Text-to-911 services and state treasurer Kelly Mitchell, chair of the statewide 911 board, to increase awareness of the 911 options.
McAfee expressed surprise that the Lifeline Law had such overwhelming bipartisan support.
“In the polarized society that we live in right now, it was amazing that the government – I’m not a member of the government – it was amazing that the government came together to look out for the people,” he said. “I said it earlier: This is the government admitting that they understand what happens in the real world.
“That things happen. And kids underage drink, and whenever they get away from the parents and they have a little wild and a little bit of freedom, things happen. Hopefully, with this press conference and my platform, I can bring a lot of awareness to kids that, if they’re in a bad situation, no matter what time of day, if things are going wrong, they can text 911. They can save a friend’s life. They can make good things happen.”