The state of New York has passed a Good Samaritan law in the belief it will help fight drug overdose.
The law bars arrests and prosecution for personal possession of drugs, paraphernalia or underage drinking when someone calls for help to save the life of an overdose victim.
Overdose—now the leading cause of accidental death in New York and the number one injury-related killer of adults 35-54—is responsible for some 28,000 annual deaths nationally.
Most overdoses occur in the presence of other people and take several hours to cause death. But research finds that in up to half of cases, no one calls for help. 911 calls are also often delayed as witnesses try ineffective methods of reviving people such as slapping them or dousing them with cold water.
The most common reason given for not calling 911 or for delaying help-seeking is fear of arrest and prosecution.