Like many states, Ohio has a law that provides some protection from arrest and prosecution for drug-related crimes if a person seeks emergency help for an overdose. These “Good Samaritan” laws have been enacted throughout the country in an effort to cut down on the growing epidemic of fatal drug overdoses. Medical and law enforcement professionals hope that more people will get lifesaving help for others and themselves if they’re not afraid of being arrested.
You should always get help immediately if someone (including yourself) appears to have overdosed. However, it’s important to understand that Ohio’s law doesn’t provide legal immunity in every situation.
Restrictions and requirements
While it’s called the “911 Good Samaritan Law,” it also applies in situations where you alert an on-duty law enforcement officer or take the overdose victim to a health care facility. Further, the immunity is only for “minor” drug offenses. Specifically, this means misdemeanors and fifth-degree felonies that police discovered only because you sought help. Note that if you get help for another person, that person also qualifies for immunity within the requirements of the law.
There are some crucial caveats and exceptions in the law. Some Ohioans don’t believe the law goes far enough in granting immunity. They say that if some of its restrictions were lifted, more people could be saved without endangering the community.
For example, those who are currently on post-release or community control are excluded from immunity. Further, a person can only receive immunity twice. In addition, Ohio law requires that a person seeking immunity under this law get a drug screening and seek substance abuse treatment for themselves within 30 days.
If you believe that you are being wrongly prosecuted for a drug-related offense after seeking emergency help for yourself or someone else, it’s important to understand the law and to get experienced legal guidance to protect your rights as you deal with the legal system.