Good Samaritan Law

This week’s message of #WeeklyWisdom is brought to you by the Alcohol & Drug Council of Tompkins County, a proud partner of the Community Coalition for Healthy Youth. The topic for this week’s message is New York State’s 911 Good Samaritan Law.

One of the primary reasons that people fail to report an overdose is fear of getting in trouble. In response to this, NYS’s 911 Good Samaritan Law was developed to encourage people to call 911 to report an overdose, without fear of arrest or other legal consequences. This law empowers you to save someone’s life by protecting everyone, regardless of age, who seeks medical help for themselves or someone else during an overdose. The overdose victim is also protected.

The law protects from charges and prosecutions for:

  • Possessing controlled substances up to and including A2 felony offenses (anything under 8 ounces)
  • Possessing alcohol, where underage drinking is involved
  • Possessing marijuana (any quantity)
  • Possessing drug paraphernalia
  • Sharing drugs.

The law does NOT protect from the following:

  • A1 felony possession of a controlled substance (8 ounces or more)
  • Sale or intent to sell controlled substances
  • Open warrants for your arrest
  • Violation of probation or parole.

However, being at an overdose is not, in and of itself, a violation of parole. Parole violations require a hearing to review the violation. In cases where a parole violation was related to events at the scene of an overdose, a person who calls 911 or reverses an overdose would likely receive more favorable treatment during the hearing than someone who did not take action to protect others from overdose.

The following are signs of an overdose. Call 911 if the person:

  • Is passed out and cannot be woken up
  • Is not breathing, breathing very slowly, or making gurgling sounds
  • Has lips that are blue or grayish color.

If you are concerned about your own substance abuse, or that of a loved one, the Council is here to help 7 days a week. We are also offering Opioid Overdose and Narcan Administration trainings via Zoom twice weekly. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you are in need or have any questions!

We are all in this together!