Looking at the dismal state of the drug overdose scenario in the United States, the New York Police Department (NYPD) announced recently that a person calling 911 during a substance overdose would not be arrested.
This message by the police department is a part of the public service ad campaign to tackle opioid abuse. The U.S. is reeling under an opioid epidemic with thousands of people dying because of lack of timely intervention. Over 1,300 residents in New York City died from drug overdose in 2016, the highest recorded rate of deaths due to opioids.
The advertisement highlights the fact that under the 911 Good Samaritan Law, those calling for help during an overdose will not be prosecuted for any controlled substance offense. The NYPD is raising the awareness among people about the law, urging people to call 911 in the event of witnessing someone overdosing on any drug or alcohol, without the fear of an arrest.
The ad campaign using various platforms, such as social media, urban transit like buses, subways and ferries, will serve a two-pronged purpose. The first aim is to help New Yorkers under the protections of the Good Samaritan Law, and the other is to save lives, according to Police Commissioner James O’Neill. The ad will primarily concentrate in boroughs and areas like the Bronx and Staten Island, that have a very high rate of drug use.
The sole purpose of the enactment of the 911 Good Samaritan Law (NYS Penal Law 220.78) is to prevent any person seeking “health care for someone who is experiencing a drug or alcohol overdose or other life-threatening medical emergency,” from facing prosecution for controlled substance offense. It absolves them while seeking health care for themselves or is the subject of such good faith request.
While everyone, irrespective of age, caste, and creed is eligible for protection under the 911 Good Samaritan Law, the New York State Department of Health is also floating literature that clearly outlines a few exceptions. The law would not be applicable in the case of an individual criminally possessing 8 ounces or more of a controlled substance, selling or intending to sell controlled substances, opening arrest warrants and violating probation or parole.
People who are protected under the law are those who possess 8 ounces or less of a controlled substance (known as an A-II felony), alcohol in a case of underage drinking, any quantity of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and shared drugs.
For charges, which are lesser than A-II felonies, calling 911 can be used for defending drug sale charges. For this, the defendant has to have a clear track-record and no previous convictions for A-A-II, B felony or I drug sales (which is criminal possession with intent to sell any narcotic weighing up to a half ounce). When there is any case of A-I and A-II felony convictions, a 911 call can also reduce the tenure of prison time.
All these efforts by the NYPD are to deter people from using drugs and save those who overdose.
Addiction is a malady that can destroy any prospective life. Overdose deaths have seen a surge in recent years in the United States. Hence, it is about time that everyone takes responsibility to wipe out the scourge from the society. If you have loved one grappling with an addiction, call our 24-hour drug helpline number at 855-441-4405 or chat online for an immediate assistance. Our members can provide you with the best drug rehab help.