Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) has introduced legislation that will permit those who witness an accidental drug overdose to call emergency services without fear of prosecution.
This legislation, SB 892, would provide an affirmative defense for individuals who take responsible measures to report an overdose, remain at the scene of the overdose until emergency services arrive, and identify themselves to the responding officer.
SB 892 was brought to Senator Petersen’s attention by Professor Gerard Lawson of Virginia Tech.
Statement of Professor Lawson: “We know that deaths by drug overdose are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, surpassing even motor vehicle accidents. More than 800 Virginians died from drug overdoses in 2012, and every one of those deaths left behind parents, families and friends, who were devastated by the tragedy. My students were working on a project for their Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling project, and came across this Good Samaritan legislation. It has now become law in 20 states, and our hope is that this legislation will save lives here in Virginia, and save families from having to experience the heartbreak that comes with an accidental overdose.”
Statement of Senator Petersen: “This bill is a small but important step at combatting the growing problem of drug overdoses in Virginia. Those who take the responsible step of calling emergency services to report a drug overdose should be treated as Good Samaritans and not be subject to prosecution. If enacted, this bill could save the lives of our friends, our neighbors, or members of our family.”