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New York’s Good Samaritan Law can provide immunity in an overdose situation

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New York State’s Good Samaritan Law protects overdose victims and bystanders who call 911 for medical assistance in the event of an overdose from drugs or alcohol, according to the Rapid Response Workgroup, Watertown.

The law protects residents from prosecution for underage possession of alcohol and for holding or sharing small amounts of drugs without compensation or benefit.

A flyer promoting the law has been approved by the district attorneys of Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties, according to Anita K. Seefried-Brown, director of community prevention at the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County.

The law does not offer protection to residents in possession of eight ounces or more of narcotics or to those who sell drugs, including marijuana. However, the flyer notes, judges can consider lesser sentences for persons who seek medical attention for overdose victims.

There were 18 overdose deaths in 2011 and 16 in 2012 in Jefferson County, according to the office of the Jefferson County Medical Examiner.

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