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The Good Samaritan Law in Drug-Related Emergencies: What You Need to Know

The Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act has finally been approved in New Jersey by a 21-10 vote in the senate. The Good Samaritan law protects individuals in drug-related emergency situations from prosecution when they call 911 for assistance. The law is already effective in several states, including Washington and New Mexico, and has been passed in Illinois, Colorado and Florida this year.

What Does the Law Do?

The number one cause of accidental death in the United States is overdose; although, in many situations, death could have been avoided if paramedics had been called. When illegal substances are involved, people are afraid to call the police because they fear criminal action will be taken against them for the possession or use of drugs. This causes friends to choose not to call for help when an overdose occurs, and sometimes even deters the individual experiencing an overdose from calling the police. The Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act protects the people involved in these situations from facing any legal action when they call for help.

The Details

The law protects individuals experiencing an overdose, as well as any witnesses of the overdose, from arrest or prosecution whenever they seek emergency assistance and they are:

    • Buying, using, possessing or under the influence of any illegal controlled substances, prescription drugs or inhalants
    • Possessing and having the intent to use drug paraphernalia, including hypodermic syringes and needles
    • Violating an active restraining order
    • Violating parole or probation

The law also protects individuals from having to forfeit any of their personal property except for the illegal substances and paraphernalia involved.

A Second Chance

The Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act will save many lives and should reduce the number of accidental overdoses in the states involved. The act will be especially helpful to the victims of overdose, because they will have the opportunity to seek help for their addiction. This new law gives those suffering from drug addiction a second chance at life. Do you support the Good Samaritan Act? (photo via)

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