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Understanding Illinois’ Good Samaritan drug overdose law

On Behalf of | May 12, 2022 | Drug Crimes

Illinois takes drug-related crimes very seriously. However, like states all across the country, it also continues to have an alarming number of drug overdose deaths – many due to opioids. 

A number of these deaths could be prevented if people got medical care in time. That means that someone who is present when a person overdoses – or the overdose victim themselves – would need to call 911. Unfortunately, people are often afraid to do that for fear of being arrested.

That’s why, like the majority of states, Illinois has a “Good Samaritan” drug overdose immunity law. The Illinois Emergency Medical Services Access Law provides immunity from arrest and prosecution for many drug possession crimes if a person calls 911 or takes the victim to an emergency room or other medical facility. 

It also applies if a person gives someone naloxone as an emergency treatment for an overdose and then seeks professional medical help for them. The immunity extends to both the person who seeks help and the person suffering the overdose.

When the law doesn’t apply

Note that this law is not intended to (nor does it) protect people who have given or sold the drugs that caused the overdose. The law also doesn’t protect those who are in possession of large quantities of illegal drugs. 

It applies to those with under 40 grams of prescription opioids or under three grams of heroin, morphine, cocaine, LSD and other drugs. The law itself outlines specific amounts of numerous drugs that are covered if found in someone’s possession in these emergency situations.

Of course, doing everything within your power to save someone’s life is never the wrong thing. It’s also important to remember that those who distribute or sell drugs that result in a fatal overdose can be charged with homicide. If you or a loved one is facing drug-related charges after seeking emergency medical help for themselves or someone else, it’s critical that you seek legal guidance.