Unintentional drug overdose is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Some states have enacted "Good Samaritan" laws that create immunities or other legal protections for people who call for help in the event of an overdose to encourage and protect bystanders who may otherwise not be willing to call for fear of being arrested for drug-related crimes. The protection afforded by these laws varies from state to state. Some states have comprehensive Good Samaritan overdose prevention laws that provide broad protection, while others have passed laws that consider seeking medical assistance for a person experiencing an overdose as an affirmative defense, or as a mitigating factor during sentencing.
This longitudinal dataset captures laws from January 1, 2007, to January 1, 2023, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia that create an immunity or affirmative defense against drug-related criminal charges for individuals who call 911 to report an opioid overdose.
These data were updated with support from the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE).