A new Florida law that is set to go into effect in early October may make it easier for a person to call 911 without the criminal ramifications if they witness or experience a drug overdose. This is because the individual who reports the overdose will not be charged with a drug possession crime as a result of their call for medical help. The new law is called the 911 Good Samaritan Act.
According to one report, if a person in Florida calls to report a drug overdose, that individual will not be able to be charged with drug possession for the controlled substance. However, if the drug that caused the overdose was not the same as the one that is in the possession, the person making the call can still face drug possession charges. The law is intended to reduce the number of deaths related to controlled substances in our state.
Currently, one Florida official notes that seven people die in our state every day due to a drug overdose. In most of those cases, another person is present at the time of the overdose. In addition, reports indicate that in at least one-third of the overdose cases, the person present with the overdosing individual was aware that they were in medical distress.
This new law may help to reduce the number of people who are afraid to report a drug overdose because of the risk of being charged with drug possession. It remains to be seen if the new law is effective at reaching the goals it set for reductions in those fearing being charged with a drug crime. Anyone who is suspected of committing a crime has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. In addition, regardless of the charge, that individual has the right to seek a defense against any charges filed.
Source: WUFT News, "New Florida law provides medical amnesty in drug overdose cases," Samantha Taub, Oct. 1, 2012