Immunity for Calling 911 or Seeking Emergency Medical Assistance – Good Samaritan Laws

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Immunity for Calling 911 or Seeking Emergency Medical Assistance – Good Samaritan Laws

To encourage people to seek out medical attention for an overdose or for follow-up care after naloxone has been administered, 37 states and the District of Columbia have enacted some form of a Good Samaritan or 911 drug immunity law. These laws generally provide immunity from arrest, charge or prosecution for certain controlled substance possession and paraphernalia offenses when a person who is either experiencing an opiate-related overdose or observing one calls 911 for assistance or seeks medical attention. State laws are also increasingly providing immunity from violations of pretrial, probation or parole conditions and violations of protection or restraining orders.

The scope of what offenses and violations are covered by immunity provisions varies by state. Some states have opted for more restricted immunity while others, like Vermont, have provided immunity from a more expansive list of controlled substance offenses.
These laws often require a caller to have a reasonable belief that someone is experiencing an overdose emergency and is reporting that emergency in good faith. Good faith is often defined to exclude seeking help during the course of the execution of an arrest or a search warrant. Some laws also specify that immunity for covered offenses is not ground for suppression of evidence of other crimes. Other requirements frequently include remaining on scene until help arrives and cooperating with emergency personnel when they arrive.

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