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Understanding Alabama’s Good Samaritan overdose law

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2023 | Criminal Law

When most people see a friend or even someone they barely know appearing to overdose, their first instinct is typically to call 911. Unfortunately, that instinct may be quickly overridden by a fear that such a call will bring police and possible arrest. 

That’s why most states, including Alabama, have “Good Samaritan” laws that offer immunity from being charged with relatively minor drug offenses if the offense was discovered only because someone sought emergency medical assistance. 

These laws vary from one state to the next regarding exactly what offenses qualify for immunity, whether the immunity extends to the person suffering the overdose and what requirements must be met to qualify to qualify for immunity. Let’s take a look at Alabama’s law. 

The requirements for immunity under Alabama law

Alabama law provides immunity for misdemeanor controlled substance offenses (with the exception of DUI) if the alleged offense was discovered only because the person sought emergency help. Further, the following must apply:

  • They had a reasonable belief that no one else had yet called for emergency assistance
  • They accurately provided law enforcement with their full name. 
  • They remained at the scene. 

The law doesn’t specifically reference immunity for the person suffering the overdose. However, it’s always better to let the legal system deal with that than to risk the chance that someone will lose their life if you don’t get help. 

It’s crucial to understand that this law isn’t meant to be a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for any alleged crime that might be discovered when police show up at an overdose scene. However, the fact that someone sought to help someone who appeared to be overdosing can always be addressed if they are arrested and charged with a crime.

Whatever the situation, if you find yourself facing drug-related or any other charges after seeking help for an overdose or suffering an overdose yourself, it’s always smart to get experienced legal guidance as soon as possible to protect your rights.