New Jersey is now the 12th state to enact protections for "Good Samaritans" in drug overdose cases, after Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law Thursday.
The new law passed in no small part due to the support of singer and New Jersey native Jon Bon Jovi, whom Christie credited as inspiration for signing the bill, reports The Star-Legder.
Now that this law is passed, Good Samaritans can feel free to call 911 to report drug overdoses without fear of legal consequences for the caller or the drug-overdose victim.
New Jersey's Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act
The Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act was originally vetoed in November by Gov. Christie, but according to The Star-Legder, he changed his mind after talking with Bon Jovi and reading the letters of many grieving parents.
Now that the Act has passed, altruistic individuals who call 911 when a friend or neighbor is overdosing will not be liable for drug use or possession charges for calling the police.
In addition, the Act also provides Good Samaritan protection for anyone administering an opioid antidote to an overdose victim.
Medics and even average citizens in New Jersey can use these opioid antidotes to aid overdose victims without fear of being sued. This may help the state reverse the alarming trend that left 180 dead from opioid overdose alone in 2009, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.
A Few Caveats
Still, nothing in the bill prevents law enforcement from charging anyone with a drug crime using evidence that is unrelated to calling for medical aid.
Also, New Jersey's current Good Samaritan Act is still in effect, so do-gooders and medical professionals still may be sued in cases where they acted maliciously or recklessly in giving aid.
As for Bon Jovi, the singer/songwriter's involvement in New Jersey's Good Samaritan law follows his then-19-year-old daughter's brush with a drug overdose in her college dorm room in New York in 2012.
New York's Good Samaritan law for 911 callers allowed Bon Jovi's daughter to be rescued by emergency responders and not charged with a drug crime.