State senators advanced legislation Thursday that would exempt individuals in South Carolina who are under the influence of drugs if they aid in getting help for someone else who has overdosed.
State Sen. Paul Campbell, R-Berkeley, said the person calling for help should be considered a “Good Samaritan.” “They cannot be charged because they are inebriated if they are helping someone who has overdosed,” he explained. “They are exempted from charges.”
Campbell said the goal is to encourage individuals who may be on drugs but are not in distress, to help those who have overdosed and cannot help themselves. “We’re not going to put that person in jeopardy because that’s a ‘Good Samaritan’ act that he’s doing” Campbell said.
He said the person calling for help has to stay with the individual in trouble until emergency personnel gets on scene. “You’ve got to use your real name and stay with the person until help arrives,” said Campbell.
There are some caveats for the Good Samaritan to be immune from prosecution. The individual must make a “good faith” effort to get medical assistance through an emergency room, medical clinic or 911 call. They must also use their actual name and cooperate with first responders or law enforcement who arrive on-scene.
The legislation only protects an individual from criminal charges and does not address civil charges.
The bill needs one more procedural vote in the Senate next week before it can head to the House.