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What Are Your Obligations and Risks Under Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law?

As many Maryland residents know, they do not have to fear prosecution as a result of calling 911 to alert authorities that someone has overdosed on drugs. In years past, the state was covered in billboards announcing this law in response to a massive spike in drug and alcohol overdoses in the state. Also in response to the alarming increase in deaths, Maryland passed a 911 Good Samaritan law in 2014. It gave limited immunity from prosecution to someone who tries to render aid to an overdose victim by calling emergency services.

What are Your Obligations Under the Law?

Maryland’s Good Samaritan law does not make it mandatory for someone who witnesses a drug or alcohol overdose to act. The law was an attempt to curb the chilling effect that some felt was created whenever arriving officers arrested a  911 caller found to be in possession of illegal drugs or alcohol. No new obligation has been created under the law requiring a person to call 911 in case of an overdose.

True Limited Immunity?

The immunity provided by Maryland’s 911 Good Samaritan law applies to only two people in any given situation, and it appears to be limited by the circumstances at the time of the event.

First, careful reading of the law shows that only two people fall under the umbrella of immunity that the law provides. Both the caller to 911 and the victim of the overdose are purportedly protected. Therefore, law enforcement officials only appear to be constrained from arresting Caller A and Victim B but not person C, D and E who may also be present. Clearly, under the plain language of the law, C, D and E are in legal jeopardy.

Secondly, the language of the law provides immunity from prosecution in limited circumstances.  

Finally, the best advice to clients is to urge them to not put themselves in the situation in which illegal drugs or alcohol are being consumed. Failing that, the only other credible advice currently available would be to do the right thing and call 911 in an overdose situation. If you find yourself facing criminal charges after calling 911 to help someone in need, then reach out to an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer right away. We will help ensure that your rights under the law are protected.

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