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Indiana’s overdose immunity law features many restrictions

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

In recent years, more states have enacted laws that provide immunity for drug possession offenses for those who seek emergency help for someone who appears to be suffering an overdose. In some states, this immunity extends to the person suffering the overdose whether someone calls on their behalf or they seek help for themselves.

These laws are meant to help reduce the number of fatal overdoses. Too many people die who could have been saved if they’d received emergency care sooner. Those who are with someone who appears to be overdosing often leave the scene rather than call for help because they’re afraid of being arrested for their own drug use.

Indiana’s law

Indiana has some “Good Samaritan” protections for those who seek emergency help for an overdose. These protections are actually part of a broader Indiana law that provides immunity from civil liability if someone unsuccessfully tries to help a person by administering naloxone (Narcan). It’s more restrictive than similar laws in other states. Nonetheless, it’s important for people to know about it and to make sure their kids know about it.

Under Indiana’s law, a person can receive immunity from arrest for possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia if they seek emergency help for an overdose victim as long as they:

  • Administer legally obtained Narcan to the victim
  • Remain at the scene
  • Cooperate with law enforcement (including providing their name and other information they need)

This immunity doesn’t extend to the person suffering the overdose.

As noted, Indiana’s law has more restrictions than many states’ overdose immunity laws. Most people don’t keep Narcan with them unless they have a loved one with an opioid abuse issue. Further, while it protects people from arrest for drug possession offenses discovered because they called for help, it doesn’t protect them for consequences if they were violating a condition of parole or probation.

Despite the restrictions in the law, it’s always the right thing to seek emergency help for anyone who appears to be suffering an overdose or any kind of medical distress. This potentially life-saving action can always be presented as a mitigating factor in charging or sentencing a person if their alleged offense was only discovered because they sought help. Having experienced legal guidance under these circumstances can make all the difference.