Legislation to help save lives in the case of drug overdoses was unanimously approved by the Senate today, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9) announced.
“In recent years, we’ve seen multiple instances of tragic, needless deaths – frequently, the deaths of young people – due to drug overdoses in Chester County, Delaware County and all across Pennsylvania,” Pileggi said. “This bill is designed to make sure that anyone who is a companion of someone who overdoses knows that they can call for help without fear of being prosecuted.”

Senate Bill 1164 , introduced by Pileggi, would provide immunity from prosecution for certain drug crimes to individuals who seek help when a friend or companion overdoses on drugs. The bill is supported by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan, who first recommended to Sen. Pileggi that he introduce this legislation, said, “Given the problems that we are seeing in the real world with kids dying from heroin overdoses, this legislation makes perfect sense. If we can save a single life, this bill will have served its purpose. But we are hoping to save many lives and to save many parents the tragedy of outliving their children.”

Andy Hoover, legislative director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said, “We support this bill because it’s a step in the direction of treating those who have drug problems rather than prosecuting them. This kind of approach has worked in other states, and we know it will also save lives in Pennsylvania.”

The bill will afford immunity from certain drug crimes when law enforcement officers become aware of a person’s crime because that person transports someone experiencing a drug overdose to a law enforcement agency, a campus security office, or a healthcare facility.

It also provides immunity if law enforcement officers become aware of a person’s crime because that person reports a drug overdose believing that a friend or companion needed immediate medical attention to prevent death or serious bodily injury and the person remained with their friend or companion until help arrives.

Senate Bill 1164 now moves to the state House for consideration.