What is the California “911 Good Samaritan” Law?

A new “911 Good Samaritan” Overdose Prevention Law became effective January 1, 2013 in California .This law protects people from arrest and prosecution for drug possession when they call 911 to report an overdose.

Drug overdose is the second leading cause of injury and death in the United States, behind only motor vehicle accidents and ahead of firearms. California has the greatest number of overdose deaths in the country per year. Moreover, drug and alcohol overdose morbidity and mortality are not confined to adults but also devastate California’s youth.

Although studies indicate that most people overdose in the presence of others, many people either delay or do not call for emergency services. Numerous studies have shown that many overdose fatalities occur because peers delay or forgo calling 911 or seeking emergency assistance for fear of arrest or police involvement.

The new law, known as the” 911 Good Samaritan Law” encourages witnesses at the scene of a suspected drug or alcohol overdose to seek emergency assistance without fear of arrest for minor drug law violations.

It  provides limited protections from arrest and prosecution for low-level drug law violations at the scene of an overdose, including possession of small amounts of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Those who sell drugs are not protected under the new law and existing laws prohibiting drug-related violations, such as drugged driving, remain unchanged.

The 911 Good Samaritan Law is found in the California Health and Safety Code 11376.5.

(a) Notwithstanding any other law, it shall not be a crime for a person to be under the influence of, or to possess for personal use, a controlled substance, controlled substance analog, or drug paraphernalia, if that person, in good faith, seeks medical assistance for another person experiencing a drug-related overdose that is related to the possession of a controlled substance, controlled substance analog, or drug paraphernalia of the person seeking medical assistance, and that person does not obstruct medical or law enforcement personnel. No other immunities or protections from arrest or prosecution for violations of the law are intended or may be inferred.

(b) Notwithstanding any other law, it shall not be a crime for a person who experiences a drug-related overdose and who is in need of medical assistance to be under the influence of, or to possess for personal use, a controlled substance, controlled substance analog, or drug paraphernalia, if the person or one or more other persons at the scene of the overdose, in good faith, seek medical assistance for the person experiencing the overdose. No other immunities or protections from arrest or prosecution for violations of the law are intended or may be inferred.

(c) This section shall not affect laws prohibiting the selling, providing,giving, or exchanging of drugs, or laws prohibiting the forcible administration of drugs against a person’s will.

Were you charged with drug possession or other criminal activity while helping someone in an drug overdose emergency?  You need to speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately  if you are facing criminal charges, or think that you might be charged with a crime, or simply want qualified legal advice. Attorney Elliott N. Kanter is an  experienced and knowledgeable San Diego Drug Offense Defense Attorney.  He can advise you about the new California 911 Good Samaritan laws that apply in your situation, and he will give you advice based on his 30 plus years experience with the local courts, prosecuting attorneys, and police. Call our office today at 619-330-5881 or submit our secure online claim form for a prompt reply. We are here to help you.

This article is for educational and marketing purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship.