What Is the Nevada Good Samaritan Drug Law?
Nevada has a statute named the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act. The law contains various provisions that protect persons who take specific actions to assist a person who may be overdosing on drugs or alcohol, including immunity for a person who seeks medical treatment for an overdose for themselves or another person. The statute provides other protections as well.
What Immunity does the Good Samaritan Law Provide?
Immunity under the Act applies in limited circumstances. Seeking medical assistance for your own or someone else’s drug overdose enables you to qualify for immunity for prosecution if your actions constitute one of the following:
- Reporting a drug or alcohol overdose or other medical emergency to a member of a law enforcement agency, 911 emergency service, poison control center, medical facility, or provider of emergency medical services
- Assisting someone else in making such a report
- Providing care to another person who is experiencing an overdose or other medical emergency while waiting for medical assistance to arrive
- Delivering a person who is experiencing a drug or alcohol overdose or other medical emergency to a medical facility and notifying the appropriate authorities
If your conduct meets one of the requirements, immunity under the law prohibits arrest, charges, prosecution, and conviction for use of a controlled substance, possession on drug paraphernalia, violation of a restraining order, violation of probation or parole, or possession of narcotics (with specific restrictions). One important exception to the immunity provision is that it does not apply to actions relating to abuse or neglect of a child.
Immunity under the Good Samaritan law protects only the person seeking medical assistance. It does not protect others present at the scene. It also applies only to evidence of drug possession and use obtained as the result of seeking medical assistance. It does not protect from offenses discovered in other ways, nor does it apply to evidence of crimes other than those specifically listed in the law.
What Qualifies as a Drug or Alcohol Overdose?
For purposes of the law, NRS 453C.150(5) defines drug or alcohol overdose as:
a condition, including, without limitation, extreme physical illness, a decreased level of consciousness, respiratory depression, coma, mania or death which is caused by the consumption or use of a controlled substance or alcohol, or another substance with which a controlled substance or alcohol was combined, or that an ordinary layperson would reasonably believe to be a drug or alcohol overdose that requires medical assistance.
While the statutory language may seem complex, a situation qualifies if the symptoms are such that an ordinary person would reasonably think that a drug or alcohol overdose requiring medical attention is occurring.
Other Protections in the Law
In addition to providing immunity for prosecution for persons seeking medical assistance for an overdose, the law provides specific immunity to health care professionals who prescribe or dispense opioid antagonists (overdose reversal drugs) like naloxone in their practice for legitimate medical purposes. The antagonist may be dispensed or prescribed for a person at risk of having an opioid-related overdose or a family member of the person at risk.
The Act also protects law enforcement officers, paramedics, and EMTs who act in good faith in administer an overdose reversal drug to a person they reasonably believe is experiencing an overdose. In addition, the statute allows greater access to naloxone through pharmacies without a prescription. Those provisions enable family and friends of individuals who use prescription or illegal drugs to keep naloxone on hand for emergencies.
Asserting the Good Samaritan Act as a Defense to Drug Charges
The law contains complex provisions that must be met for immunity to apply. Establishing entitlement to immunity requires demonstrating specific facts and circumstances to the prosecution. Providing the proof to the satisfaction of the prosecution requires investigation and legal analysis of the case. If you attempt to provide the necessary proof yourself, you could end up in an even worse position.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With an Experienced Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you need assistance with criminal charges or any situation involving the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act in Las Vegas, criminal defense attorney Joseph Gersten is here to help. Even if the case is still in the investigative stages, it is in your best interest to talk with a knowledgeable lawyer who can protect and assert all your rights.
The Gersten Law Firm assists clients facing drug charges or any other state or federal criminal charge in Las Vegas, Henderson, and elsewhere in Clark County. There is no charge for your initial consultation and case evaluation. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.