The Colorado Good Samaritan law provides immunity for persons who suffer or report an emergency drug or alcohol overdose event. The law seeks to reduce the number of preventable deaths resulting from accidental drug or alcohol overdoses.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws or regulations to protect the general public from liability during rescues or rescue attempts. In some states, Good Samaritan laws only cover medically trained rescuers, while other states extend protection to the general public. Map courtesy of www.ncsl.org.
Colorado’s Good Samaritan law extends to those reporting accidental drug or alcohol overdoses for someone else, or themselves. In fact, Muhaisen & Muhaisen,LLC has obtained dismissals for clients who suffered and/or reported drug and alcohol overdose incidents.
This is a very important law, since the chance of surviving an overdose, like that of surviving a heart attack, greatly depends on how fast one receives medical assistance. Witnesses to an overdose, however, often hesitate to seek help or simply do not call for assistance. Research confirms the most common reason people cite for not calling 911 is fear of police involvement. Our Firm’s position is that drug addicts need help, not incarceration.
The law does not grant immunity for all drug crimes, including distribution. The statute grants immunity for the crimes listed in the statute below.
Colorado Revised Statute § 18-1-711. Immunity for persons who suffer or report an emergency drug or alcohol overdose event
(1) A person is immune from arrest and prosecution for an offense described in subsection (3) of this section if:
(a) The person reports in good faith an emergency drug or alcohol overdose event to a law enforcement officer, to the 911 system, or to a medical provider;
(b) The person remains at the scene of the event until a law enforcement officer or an emergency medical responder arrives or the person remains at the facilities of the medical provider until a law enforcement officer arrives;
(c) The person identifies himself or herself to, and cooperates with, the law enforcement officer, emergency medical responder, or medical provider; and
(d) The offense arises from the same course of events from which the emergency drug or alcohol overdose event arose.
(2) The immunity described in subsection (1) of this section also extends to the person who suffered the emergency drug or alcohol overdose event if all of the conditions of subsection (1) are satisfied.
(3) The immunity described in subsection (1) of this section shall apply to the following criminal offenses:
(a) Unlawful possession of a controlled substance, as described in section 18-18-403.5 (2) (a) (I), (2) (b) (I), or (2) (c);
(b) Unlawful use of a controlled substance, as described in section 18-18-404;
(c) Unlawful possession of two ounces or less of marijuana, as described in section 18-18-406 (5) (a) (I); or more than two ounces of marijuana but no more than six ounces of marijuana, as described in section 18-18-406 (4) (c); or more than six ounces of marijuana but no more than twelve ounces of marijuana or three ounces or less of marijuana concentrate as described in section 18-18-406 (4) (b);
(d) Open and public display, consumption, or use of less than two ounces of marijuana as described in section 18-18-406 (5) (b) (I);
(e) Transferring or dispensing two ounces or less of marijuana from one person to another for no consideration, as described in section 18-18-406 (5) (c);
(f) Use or possession of synthetic cannabinoids or salvia divinorum, as described in section 18-18-406.1;
(g) Possession of drug paraphernalia, as described in section 18-18-428; and
(h) Illegal possession or consumption of ethyl alcohol or marijuana by an underage person or illegal possession of marijuana paraphernalia by an underage person, as described in section 18-13-122.
(4) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to prohibit the prosecution of a person for an offense other than an offense listed in subsection (3) of this section or to limit the ability of a district attorney or a law enforcement officer to obtain or use evidence obtained from a report, recording, or any other statement provided pursuant to subsection (1) of this section to investigate and prosecute an offense other than an offense listed in subsection (3) of this section.
(5) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires, “emergency drug or alcohol overdose event” means an acute condition including, but not limited to, physical illness, coma, mania, hysteria, or death resulting from the consumption or use of a controlled substance, or of alcohol, or another substance with which a controlled substance or alcohol was combined, and that a layperson would reasonably believe to be a drug or alcohol overdose that requires medical assistance.