Report Title:

Good Samaritan; Medical Amnesty

 

Description:

Establishes limited immunity for seeking medical assistance for victims of drug overdoses. (SD1)

 


THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

130

TWENTY-FIFTH LEGISLATURE, 2009

S.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

RELATING TO CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that good samaritan policies, also known as medical amnesty policies, are life-saving measures that enable people to make responsible decisions during a medical emergency involving controlled substances. Those policies remove the threat of criminal punishment that often causes hesitation to take necessary action in emergency situations. Time spent worrying about legal consequences delays the arrival of critically needed medical assistance. Even a short delay can be the difference between life and death. Good samaritan measures, in place at more than one hundred colleges and universities and as state law in New Mexico, ensure that people receive help when they are in trouble during an apparent drug overdose. A number of other states are considering similar legislation.

The legislature further finds if criminal punishment is intended to deter drug use, clearly it is too late to deter when a person is already suffering from an overdose. Good samaritan policies should not be perceived as a "get out of jail free card" or a reward for illegal drug use. Instead, they enable an individual to make a potentially life-saving decision promptly, without hesitation.

The purpose of this Act is to provide limited immunity from drug possession charges when a person calls for medical assistance during a drug overdose emergency.

SECTION 2. Chapter 329, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"329- Overdose prevention; limited immunity. (a) A person shall not be charged, subject to civil forfeiture, or otherwise prosecuted for a violation of this chapter or of part IV of chapter 712 if:

(1) The person was a witness to a drug overdose;

(2) The person reasonably believed that the overdose would result in imminent threat to the health or life of the overdose victim;

(3) The person summoned medical assistance at the time it was witnessed; and

(4) Evidence of the specific violation was gained as a result of the person's seeking medical assistance.

(b) A person shall not be charged, subject to civil forfeiture, or otherwise prosecuted for a violation of this chapter if:

(1) The person experiences a drug overdose and is in need of medical assistance; and

(2) Evidence of the specific violation was gained as a result of the person's overdose and the person's need for medical assistance."

SECTION 3. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun, before its effective date.

SECTION 4. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.