I have previously written about Maryland’s law protecting good Samaritans who render aid during an emergency situation. They cannot be sued in civil court. You can read all about the civil version of Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law in our blog post here.
I recently found out that Maryland also has a similar law protecting Good Samaritans from some criminal charges, mostly related to drug or alcohol use and possession.
The law has been around since 2015. You can read a fact sheet about, get a poster about it, and see a video explaining it at the Maryland Department of Health Behavioral Health Administration’s website.
The problem is an obvious one if you think about it. If you are doing drugs with a group of people, and one of them overdoses, you face a tough situation if you call 911. You might save your friend’s life, but you could also be arrested and charged with drug related offenses yourself. The same thing applies if minors are drinking alcohol. In that situation, some people may not call for emergency help, and the victim of the drug overdose just dies.
To avoid this tragedy, Maryland passed this law shielding a Good Samaritan from criminal prosecution for specific misdemeanor offenses – possessing or administering controlled dangerous substances (CDS), possessing CDS paraphernalia, and possessing or furnishing, or allowing the underage consumption of alcohol.
Limits to the Good Samaritan Law
The law protects you only if your reporting of the emergency situation was the sole source of the evidence against you. It does not prohibit the officers from conducting a further investigation.
The law also applies only if you are helping with the emergency situation. Just because you witness the emergency drug or alcohol overdose situation doesn’t protect you. You must take some action to try and help the victim.
I am not sure this is a well-known law. It certainly should be. We hope that by promoting it, we spread awareness so nobody will ever die needlessly from a drug overdose that could have been prevented by a simple 911 call.
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