State Law Protects 911 Callers


Sevilla Tovar, Editor-In-Chief

   Most people have been made aware about the dangers of counterfeit pills and illegal substances. Still, many go ahead and partake in drug use for recreational or other non- prescribed pursuits. But what happens in the case that someone overdoses? It’s a frightening reality. Many fear calling for an ambulance in the event that they’ll be targeted by the judicial system. The Good Samaritan Laws are in place to protect those calling to report an overdose, a strategy which has been proven to save lives.

Deaths caused by opioid overdoses have skyrocketed in recent years. According to an article published by BioMed Central in January of 2022, “Opioid-related overdoses are now the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. The magnitude of this public health problem is illustrated by the fact that the United States, with only four percent of the world’s population, accounts for 27 percent of the world’s opioid-involved deaths” ( Fentanyl is a gigantic factor in this.

According to Nashville’s state website, “Seventy-nine percent of overdose-related toxicology reports in 2022 have detected fentanyl” ( The issue has been introduced to our own community as well. A fentanyl and opioid awareness slideshow, created by Senior Prevention Specialist William Perno for UC High teachers, revealed that fentanyl related deaths in San Diego County alone grew from 151 people in 2019, to 462 people in 2020, to 814 in 2021. One of the most influential reasons why people do not call 911 when they fear someone has overdosed is a fear of being incriminated by police. Many states in America have implemented Good Samaritan Laws, some dealing explicitly with drug overdoses. According to County Health Rankings, “Good Samaritan drug overdose laws provide immunity from arrest, charge, or prosecution for drug possession or paraphernalia when individuals who are experiencing or witnessing an overdose summon emergency services” (

   What does the law say exactly? According to Perno, the California Health and Safety Code 1799.102 states, “…No person who is in good faith, and not for compensation, renders emergency medical or non-medical care or assistance at the scene of an emergency shall be liable for civil damages resulting from any act or omission other than an act of a mission constituting gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.” This means that no one, even if intoxicated with illegal substances, will be punished by the legal system for trying to save someone’s life.

Limitations to the law do exist. In a pamphlet from SAY San Diego, funded by the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, it says, “The law does not affect laws prohibiting the selling, providing, giving or exchanging of drugs, or laws prohibiting the forcible administration of drugs against a person’s will. The law also does not offer specific protections from arrest for related charges, such as violation of parole or probation.”

According to County Health Rankings, “A Washington-based survey suggests that as drug users learn about Good Samaritan laws, they become more likely to call 911 during an overdose, and law enforcement officers in states that have adopted Good Samaritan laws report that these laws have improved citizens’ image of law enforcement” ( With continued awareness, the lives of many will undoubtedly be saved.

Good Samaritan laws function to protect the community, regardless of their drug use. The only nuance in their system is that not many people are aware of their existence. Junior Maggie Prell said, “I think it’s good that we have these laws in place. They’re definitely contradictory to what someone would think; I understand why someone would fear calling for help if they’re also intoxicated. I wish more people knew about these laws. I definitely didn’t know about them. They’re good for everyone to know regardless of whether they partake in recreational drug use or not.”