On September 30, the Governor signed into law Act No. 136 (previously Senate Bill 1164). The law represents an important step toward a common sense drug policy. Before passage of Act No. 136, a person who did the right thing, and called the authorities, when a friend or acquaintance overdosed on drugs was often (and perversely) rewarded with an unwelcome surprise: drug charges of her own. The possibility of facing criminal charges, and possible jail time, served as a powerful disincentive to calling 911 - even when medical care was desperately needed. Act No. 136, whose relevant section is titled “Drug Overdose Response Immunity,“ changes the equation. This new law instead encourages a person to act the ‘Good Samaritan,’ and call the authorities immediately, when she encounters a possible life-threatening drug overdose.
While the full text of the bill is available here, what follows is a quick summary of its relevant provisions:
“A person may not be charged and shall be immune from prosecution for any offense listed in subsection b) and for a violation of probation or parole if the person can establish the following”:
i. law enforcement officers only became aware of the person's commission of an offense listed in subsection b) because the person transported a person experiencing a drug overdose event to a law enforcement agency, a campus security office or a health care facility; or
ii. all of the following apply:
1. the person reported, in good faith, a drug overdose event to a law enforcement officer, the 911 system, a campus security officer or emergency services personnel and the report was made on the reasonable belief that another person was in need of immediate medical attention and was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury due to a drug overdose;
2. the person provided his own name and location and cooperated with the law enforcement officer, 911 system, campus security officer or emergency services personnel; and
3. the person remained with the person needing immediate medical attention until a law enforcement officer, a campus security officer or emergency services personnel arrived.
b) The prohibition on charging or prosecuting a person as described in subsection a) bars charging or prosecuting a person for probation and parole violations and for violations of section 13(a)(5), (16), (19), (31), (32), (33) and (37).
c) Persons experiencing drug overdose events may not be charged and shall be immune from prosecution as provided in subsection b) if a person who transported or reported and remained with them may not be charged and is entitled to immunity under this section.