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Limited immunity for those in New Jersey who prevent overdoses

The consequences for drug possession in New Jersey are very serious. This scares many people and causes them to act irrationally when someone they are with overdoses on heroin, cocaine or any other illegal substances. Rather than making a life-saving phone call to 911, they hide drug paraphernalia first, flee the scene or take other measures to protect themselves from prosecution.

As many as 6,000 people have died from drug overdoses in New Jersey over the past 9 years. It is believed that many of the overdoses would not have been fatal if others had sought medical help. New legislation purposed with saving lives, however, encourages drug users to call for help when they are in the presence of a potentially fatal drug overdose. It grants limited immunity to those who put the lives of others ahead of their own and make a genuine effort to save the victim’s life. In turn, the “good Samaritan” will be granted limited immunity for possession of drugs at the scene; they will not be prosecuted as a result of making a moral choice. The law does not grant immunity to others at the scene who do nothing to help the victim. Law enforcement officials are being reminded of the parameters of the new law. The general population needs to be educated as well; public awareness is imperative to the success of the law.

It is natural to get scared when facing a life or death situation. If you find yourself in a position where you can potentially save someone from a fatal overdose, however, you shouldn’t be scared to make a call to emergency responders. Those who face drug charges for other reasons shouldn’t be afraid to call for help either; an experienced attorney could help lessen the consequences.

Source: The Express-Times, “New Jersey attorney general reminds police about Overdose Prevention Act,” Matthew Bultman, July 15, 2013

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