good samaritan law

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s drug overdose epidemic has not abated. But there has been some progress in marshaling more resources to fight it. The General Assembly recently reinstated the Good Samaritan law, which protects people who call 911 for someone who’s overdosing. 

Jake Bissaro / The Providence Center

State lawmakers gathered for the signing of the newly reinstated Good Samaritan Overdose Law. The law expired last summer, much to the chagrin of public health advocates.

The law protects people who call 911 for someone who's overdosing from being arrested.

Going forward the law will protect people from being charged for drug possession or use, and from being picked up for violating probation.

Lawmakers put an expiration date on the original bill passed in 2012 in case it conflicted with law enforcement.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A new General Assembly session is underway, and already the House and Senate are casting votes on critical issues. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Kristin Gourlay has been checking in with leaders in both bodies to find out what their health care legislation priorities are. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

So-called Good Samaritan legislation now faces a vote in the Rhode Island House, after winning quick passage in the Senate. The bill would protect people who help drug users dying from an overdose.     

The Good Samaritan law would enable bystanders to administer a dose of the overdose rescue drug Narcan without worrying about a law suit. It would also protect people who call 911 from being charged with drug possession. 

Aaron Read / RIPR

Lawmakers and advocates are applauding the speed with which the general assembly has taken up the Good Samaritan Law.

The state senate voted to renew the law, which provides legal protection for those calling 9-1-1 in the event of an overdose emergency. However, the bill does not protect those found to be delivering or selling drugs.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin

Rhode Island’s Attorney General has issued guidance for law enforcement after the expiration of the Good Samaritan law. The law was created to protect people from drug charges if they call 911 about a drug overdose; it expired July 1st after lawmakers took no action to extend it before adjourning for the summer.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A law meant to encourage people to call 911 when someone overdoses will expire July 1st. An effort to extend the Good Samaritan law failed to pass the General Assembly. Now, a chorus of disapproval is rising among public health advocates.

State officials wanted a shelf date on Rhode Island’s Good Samaritan law in case it had a negative impact on law enforcement. The state attorney general says the law has barred officers from charging people with drug crimes in some cases. But National Network for Public Health Law spokesman Corey Davis said repealing the law could cost lives.

Police departments from across Rhode Island are reporting on the impact of the state’s relatively new Good Samaritan Law. The law shields from prosecution anyone seeking medical assistance for someone who’s experiencing a drug overdose, with exceptions for crimes involving manufacturing and distributing drugs.

The Good Samaritan law – also known as Good Sam - took effect in June 2012. And the idea was to encourage more people to call 911 for a friend who’s overdosing. Before the law, the caller could be arrested on drug possession or other charges.