In 2015, Virginia began to protect individuals who summon police or emergency medical services to assist a person experiencing a drug overdose. The 2015 law provided the reporting party immunity from prosecution of drug possession and paraphernalia investigations that began due to the overdose. However, the law did not provide immunity to the person actually experiencing the overdose.
In July of 2020, the Virginia Code was updated to provide immunity to both the caller and the person experiencing the overdose. The newer law protects both individuals from prosecution of drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, drunk in public, and underage possession of alcohol charges that arise as a result of law enforcement responding to the overdose emergency.
The new provision aligns Virginia with other states that have enacted “good Samaritan” laws providing legal defenses in overdose situations. The public policy articulated by the legislatures enacting the new laws is to encourage citizens to report overdoses with the fear of being charged with a crime. The Virginia provision enhances that policy by providing protections to both the caller and the person experiencing the overdose.