Bill Would Help Reduce the Potential for Fatalities From Drug Overdoses

Hugh T. Farley

June 21, 2011

State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R, C, I - Schenectady) announced that he and his colleagues in the New York State Senate gave final legislative passage on June 20th to a bill that would help reduce the potential for fatalities caused by drug overdoses. The bill (S.4454B) is known as a "Samaritan" measure because it limits the use of evidence of illicit activity when an individual seeks treatment for someone experiencing an accidental drug overdose.

In New York, overdose is the number one cause of accidental death and even exceeds traffic fatalities. In 2008, over 1,350 people died from accidental drug overdoses in New York State -- an increase of more than 60 percent from 1999. Fear of prosecution can be a real obstacle to seeking medical care for someone suffering from a drug or alcohol overdose.

This legislation, which was written in conjunction with the District Attorneys of the State of New York, will limit the use of evidence relating to possession of a controlled substance, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, or alcohol where the evidence results from seeking treatment for a drug overdose, including where someone seeks treatment for someone else.

The bill will be sent to the Governor.