The Georgia 9-1-1 Medical Amnesty Law took effect in 2014. It followed a period of 14 years in which drug overdose deaths tripled in our state. The purpose of the law, which is similar to those in most other states, is to encourage people to get emergency help either for themselves or others who are suffering an overdose without fear of facing drug charges.
The law provides those who seek help “in good faith” during an emergency with limited immunity from arrest and prosecution for being in possession of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia. It also provides immunity for underage drinking charges if someone reports a serious alcohol-related medical event.
It’s important to note that, like other laws of its kind, Georgia’s amnesty law pertains only to drug violations that are discovered “solely from seeking such medical assistance.” It won’t protect people from being charged for other offenses.
Early intervention in drug overdoses can save lives
Many drug overdoses can be treated if trained medical help is obtained immediately. Too many people have died needlessly because the people who were with them when they overdosed were afraid to call for help out of fear that they would be arrested. Sometimes, people are afraid to get help for themselves because they assume there will be legal consequences. Laws like this one can and do save lives.
Like any law, this one may not always be followed as it should be by law enforcement officers. If you or a loved one is facing drug charges that you believe fall under this law, you should seek legal guidance to make sure that your rights are protected and that you receive any immunity to which you’re entitled by law.