Lawmakers expand ‘Good Samaritan’ law

drug overdose
Individuals must remain at the scene and cooperate with law enforcement and medical personnel.

Every year, tens of thousands of people die in Florida from drug or alcohol overdoses.

To curtail those numbers, the Florida Legislature on Wednesday passed legislation that would shield people from arrest or prosecution of certain crimes if they seek medical help for themselves or someone else undergoing a drug or alcohol overdose.

The Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed a measure (HB 595) that would expand the state’s Good Samaritan Act, enacted in 2012.

Under the current law, individuals who are in possession of a controlled substance cannot be charged, prosecuted or penalized if the substance is discovered as a result of a “good faith effort” to seek medical help, for themselves or others, for a drug overdose.

The proposal now on its way to Gov. Ron DeSantis would extend the immunity to people who are in possession of drug paraphernalia or less than 10 grams of a controlled substance if they seek medical assistance with a drug or alcohol overdose.

The measure, sponsored by Democratic Rep. David Silvers of Palm Beach, is aimed at encouraging people to seek medical assistance by providing immunity under certain circumstances for giving alcohol to a person younger than 21 years of age or possessing or consuming alcohol when under 21 years of age.

Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg had filed a similar measure (SB 530) that also included protections for individuals who were trafficking drugs or intending to sell drugs at the time they called for medical help.

But the measure passed by the Senate on Wednesday included a narrower list of crimes that would be eligible for immunity.

To receive immunity in instances of an alcohol-related overdose, individuals must remain at the scene and cooperate with law enforcement and medical personnel, something not required for people who seek help for a drug-related overdose.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, drug overdose rates have increasingly escalated over the years as a result of an increase in opioid and opiate use.

A recent report by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission found that more than 104,000 people died in Florida from a drug or alcohol overdose in the first half of 2017.


Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

News Service Of Florida

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

This is default text for notification bar