Calling 911 to save a life could save you from serious trouble
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Heading into a big Halloween party weekend, law enforcement officials want to remind you to be responsible and to know about the Good Samaritan Law.
The law went into effect in April 2013, but some leaders have said a lot of people have no idea what it entails.
Here's what you need to know-- if you or someone around you has a drug overdose, or a serious reaction to alcohol or illegal drugs, drug possession charges won't happen and it's actually not calling 911 that will get you in trouble.
"It's important for people to know that no one is going to get arrested for possessing illegal hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, and bath salts-- they're not going to get arrested for being under 21 and possessing alcohol if someone goes into alcohol poisoning or overdose," said District Attorney Ben David.
Officials want to emphasize this law isn't going light on drug laws-- it's just that they would rather see people alive.
David added that very frequently people don't reach out for help when they think they might have to face some liability. Adding that yes, while he and law officers disapprove of doing illegal drugs and drinking alcohol under 21, they would much rather see people reach out and keep someone alive, than to do nothing.
"I think this law has its genesis in so many tragic deaths where parents whose kids aren't coming home have called prosecutors and legislators and said you know this doesn't seem right that my baby had to die with all their friends around them," said David.
This law does not immunize drug dealers and again, it is the failure to act, not calling 911, which would result in involuntary manslaughter.
Another detail of the Good Samaritan Law to note is if you create the peril, then you can potentially be liable even if you didn't intend the consequences, but if records show you reached out for help, D.A. Ben David said that will be a huge factor in mitigating against being charged criminally. It wouldn't be considered involuntary manslaughter if you reached out during the critical stage.
A situation showing the importance of this law actually just played out in court back in September 2013, where Jeremy Leutgens pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter of his girlfriend Stephanie Hobson after she had a bad reaction to drugs. Law enforcement found Jeremy never called 911 until after she had died, however video evidence shows he was there with her for hours while she was suffering overdose.