If you witness someone suffering what appears to be a drug overdose, your first instinct is likely to call 911 to get help. That is the instinct of many people. Unfortunately, that is too often outweighed by the fear that they’ll be arrested for possessing illegal drugs themselves. Even if they call 911 and then leave, they might fear being easily identified through their phone number.
It is these fears that have led to many unnecessary deaths from drug overdoses throughout the country. Approximately 40% of Americans who die from drug overdoses are not alone at the time.
Most states offer some type of Good Samaritan immunity
This is why most states, including Alabama, have Good Samaritan overdose immunity laws. The purpose is to encourage people to seek out emergency medical help and remain at the scene rather than flee.
These laws vary by state regarding what offenses are eligible for immunity, whether the law applies to the person suffering the overdose as well, what requirements must be met to qualify for immunity and what can prevent someone from obtaining immunity. However, they all have a common denominator of providing some form of immunity from prosecution for minor drug offenses for those who seek help for what they reasonably assume is an overdose.
What does Alabama’s law say?
Under Alabama law, a person won’t be prosecuted for a misdemeanor drug charge if it was discovered only because they sought emergency help and further:
- They had a reasonable belief that no one else had yet called for emergency assistance.
- They provided their full and accurate name.
- They remained at the scene until first responders arrived.
These are pretty clear-cut requirements, but things can get chaotic when medical and law enforcement personnel are on the scene of a suspected overdose. It is possible that they could arrest someone at the scene if they cannot fully determine what happened.
If you’ve been arrested and charged when you believe you qualify for immunity under this law, it’s crucial to seek legal guidance as soon as possible to protect your rights.