In North Dakota, Minnesota and throughout the United States, the death toll from drug overdose has been on the rise. Overdoses involving fentanyl, as well as prescription opioids, have had a devastating impact on many communities. Many people hesitate to call 911 or ask for help out of fear that they will face drug charges or otherwise be culpable for another person’s overdose. The Good Samaritan Law (in North Dakota) and Steve’s Law (in Minnesota) offer protection to those reporting a suspected drug overdose.
The Good Samaritan Law and Steve’s Law would also protect you if you were to administer naloxone to another person to reverse an opioid overdose. It’s important to understand how these laws protect you against prosecution. It’s equally important to understand the limitations of such laws.
If you call 911 to report an overdose, Steve’s Law or Good Samaritan Law protect you
If you use emergency phone services to report a drug overdose, Steve’s Law (if you’re in Minnesota) or the Good Samaritan Law (if you’re in North Dakota) protect you against prosecution for drug use or possession in connection with the incident. The following list provides basic information regarding the limitations of such laws:
- If you have responded to an overdose, you would have no immunity under these laws regarding criminal issues not associated with the specific incident in question, such as if you have a warrant out for your arrest.
- You have no protection against arrest or prosecution under these laws if you were not the responder but were merely present at the scene and were using illegal drugs.
It’s wise to seek clarification of the Good Samaritan Law and Steve’s Law ahead of time, so that you know your rights, as well as how to defend them if police arrest you and you believe a personal rights violation has occurred.
The court enacted Steve’s Law in Minnesota in 2014
With a unanimous pass in both legislative houses, Steve’s Law began in Minnesota almost 10 years ago. Naloxone can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose within minutes. Under the protection of Steve’s Law or the Good Samaritan law, you can help to save the life of a friend, family member or stranger without worrying about drug charges.
If you are taken into police custody, however, and wind up facing criminal charges that you believe have been filed in violation of Steve’s Law or the Good Samaritan law, you may request immediate legal support to help resolve the issue.