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JLeslie's avatar

Do you think calling or getting someone medical help for a drug or alcohol overdose should exempt the caller from any type of prosecution?

Asked by JLeslie (65561points) June 6th, 2016 from iPhone

For instance, if college kids are drinking or doing drugs, and someone needs medical attention, should someone at the party call an ambulance or drive the person to the ER without fear of legal repercussions? Even if that very same person was pushing the person to drink, or supplied drugs or alcohol to someone underage?

I heard about laws like this, but I have no idea how many states have them in place. I would think that if there were laws like this where I grew up, or where I went to school, I would have known.

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10 Answers

Mariah's avatar

Yes. Otherwise people will call for help less often, and more people will die from overdoses.

BellaB's avatar

Yoiks. I find this a difficult one. I can see that the positive action should have a mediating effect on any charges/penalties but I’m not sure about complete exemption from prosecution.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Yeah, I dunno about that one. If you’re providing the alcohol to a bunch of underaged drinkers and one of them overdoses on it, I don’t think rushing them to the hospital should exempt you from liability for enabling the overdose in the first place.

Jeruba's avatar

Exempt? I don’t know. But consider this true story (at least, it was told to me as true):

J and her boyfriend D go bar-hopping one evening. Both are of age. J drives them into the city in her car. J gets high and starts flirting at the bar with an unknown guy—call him M. Soon J and M leave the bar together; D sees them in M’s car too late to stop them. J. has her blouse off and looks wasted.

D walks home—a hike of many miles that takes him most of the night.

The next day J wakes up in the hospital, having been dropped off in a dangerously intoxicated state by an unnamed person. The last thing J remembers is being with D at the bar.

Presumably M left her at the ER and took off.

If M hadn’t been afraid of repercussions, he might have left his name and information about what J had ingested. And D might not have been blamed for abandoning J.

There’s no need to enumerate the instances of bad judgment in this story. The point is that this kind of situation takes the question out of the purely hypothetical.

zenvelo's avatar

I get the sentiment, but if somebody drops too many roofies in some girl’s drink, and she stops breathing, he should get away scott-free?

Lightlyseared's avatar

I’d think the laws you describe would protect the individual from prosecution for something that occurs due to them providing assistance but not protect them for their actions that may have caused the need for assistance in the first place. For example if you administer CPR and crack a rib you would be protected from prosecution for assault but I doubt you would be protected from prosecution if the reason the person needed CPR was because they overdosed after you spiked their drink.

As side note in some states in the US if you’re present when someone requires assistance you can be fined if you do not help. Calling 911 would be providing assistance so you don’t actually have to do much but even so…

JLeslie's avatar

@Lightlyseared Hmmm, but in the case of CPR you are protected for harming someone while in the act of trying to help. I’m not sure if it’s analogous. It is an interesting point with the CPR example though.

I thought in all states you cannot be held legally responsible for not helping someone. That probably does vary by state now that I think about it.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Thus, the creation of the slippery legal profession. @JLeslie I think you cannot be prosecuted for refusing to put yourself at risk in attempting to save another. But it’s quite another thing to for instance be dining on the deck of your yacht, unwilling to interrupt your lunch to toss the life preserver from the bulkhead beside you to the man drowning in front of you.

johnpowell's avatar

This is long but worth a listen.

https://youtu.be/RlESg6WifHw?t=26m53s

And it is totally relevant since it helps get in the head-space of people that would find them-self in this situation.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m pretty sure I want the person with me to not worry about going to jail and call the ambulance and tell them all the drugs and alcohol I ingested if I’m dying.

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