If you witness someone who appears to be suffering a drug overdose, your first instinct is likely to call 911. For too many people, however, that instinct is outweighed by their fear of being arrested if they’re in possession of drugs. Some overdose victims, even if they’re able to call 911 for themselves, are afraid to do it out of fear of arrest.
Countless lives have been lost to drug overdoses because people who were with the victim fled the scene and didn’t seek help. That’s why most states, including Georgia, have enacted some type of “Good Samaritan” law that provides immunity to those who get help for someone else or themselves in an overdose situation.
Every state’s law is somewhat unique in what drug-related offenses qualify for immunity and what the reporting person needs to do to qualify. Let’s look at Georgia’s law.
Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty and Expanded Naloxone Access Law
Under this law, to qualify for immunity, both the caller and the victim must remain at the scene until medical help arrives. They can qualify for immunity from charges for the following:
- Possession of small amounts of illegal drugs (for example, less than 4 grams of and under a milliliter of a liquid substance)
- Underage possession of alcohol
- Violation of probation, parole or a pretrial release condition
The immunity applies if the only reason law enforcement learned about the offense is that you called for help or someone sought help for you – for example, if they found the drugs on the scene or discovered that you were violating a condition of your probation only because of the call.
If you’ve been arrested and charged with an offense when you believe you qualify for immunity under this law, seek legal guidance to protect your rights.