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Bill to grant immunity for reporting drug overdoses gets final OK

Published February 21, 2014 12:46 pm

HB11 • The proposal offers immunity to people who seek help for overdose victims.
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The Senate gave final passage Friday to a bill granting limited criminal immunity to people who seek medical help for drug-overdose victims.

Lawmakers voted 24-0 to approve HB11 and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.

Rep. Carol Moss, D-Holladay, sponsored the bill and told in earlier House debate of 18-year-old Amelia Sorich, who died of an overdose while two friends stood by with phones in hand, but did note dare to call for help because they "were more fearful for themselves than for their dying friend."

They dumped her body in Bountiful's foothills.

Moss — whose stepson died of an overdose last year — said the bill would give people immunity from prosecution for drug use or possession if they call 911 or take an overdose victim to a medical facility.

It would not grant immunity for other types of crimes, such as selling drugs, assault or theft — but would allow calling for help and cooperation with authorities to be used as a mitigating factor in sentencing.

Moss said overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in both Utah and the United States — with 502 in the Beehive State last year — surpassing even those from car accidents.

She added that 15 other states have passed similar "good Samaritan" laws.