Thousands of people die each year from drug overdoses. Others die or suffer serious harm due to consuming too much alcohol.
Frustratingly, people present at the time could have saved many of these lives if they had called the emergency services. Yet many did not because they feared it would lead to their arrest.
Maryland is one of many states that has a Good Samaritan Law. Here is how it works:
You should not be arrested for or convicted of the following if you call 911 when someone needs urgent medical attention due to drink or drugs:
- Possessing or using a controlled dangerous substance
- Possessing or using drug paraphernalia
- Providing alcohol to minors
The same immunity would apply if you were helping in some other way. For example, your friend rings 911 while you are trying to make the overdose victim vomit up their stomach contents. In that case, you should both be immune to prosecution for the above crimes.
What about the victim?
You should not have to worry about them being prosecuted either. If the only way the police know they had taken drugs or drank while underage is that you rang for help, the victim too should be immune from prosecution.
Is this as straightforward as it sounds?
Unfortunately not. The police may still use the opportunity to gather evidence. They may still be able to prosecute the people involved for crimes if they can show that the 911 phone call was not the only proof they had that something illegal happened. Felony drug crimes are also not subject to protection.
If you tried to do the right thing by calling for help and feel it is unfair that you are now being prosecuted, seek legal help to examine if you can claim immunity under the Good Samaritan Law.