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Will I be charged with drug possession if I call 911?

Many states, including Connecticut, have enacted laws that provide at least partial immunity for Good Samaritans who seeks medical help for themselves or others for drug overdoses. The laws were passed after lawmakers realized overdose victims and observers weren't calling 911 or trying to get medical assistance for fear of facing drug charges.

These immunity laws vary widely from state to state and some are very specific. One provision included in many states' laws requires the overdose to be reported in "good faith." In Connecticut, a good faith report means not phoning in an overdose report while an arrest or police search is underway.

Good Samaritan laws generally require reporting parties to stay at the overdose scene, identify themselves and victims and cooperate with emergency personnel. The laws have cut-off points. States may forgive drug possession, but they may not be so generous if the amount found indicates you were manufacturing, distributing or selling a drug.

Some states refuse to grant immunity for any felony drug crimes. One state includes alcohol-related overdoses in its law. The second part of laws addresses immunity for individuals who possess or administer prescription naloxone antidote to counteract opioid overdoses.

A 2011 report by the University of Washington measured the success of Good Samaritan laws. Researchers learned about two-thirds of opiate users had no idea the laws existed. Police officers also had a vague idea about immunity laws but noted few arrests were made at scenes of drug overdoses.

The answer to the opening question can be "Yes" or "No," depending upon where you live and whether your idea of drug possession equals the provisions in the laws. You can learn more about Connecticut's Good Samaritan Law by speaking in confidence with a criminal defense attorney.

If you have friends or know others this law might benefit, it's advisable to share what you learn with them. You might save a life.

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, "Drug Overdose Immunity "Good Samaritan" Laws" Dec. 29, 2014

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