D.C. To Give Limited Immunity To Overdose Witnesses

WASHINGTON (AP) — People who seek medical assistance for drug overdoses will get limited legal protections under a bill signed recently by District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray.

Ten states have adopted similar laws, which are aimed at preventing drug overdose deaths. Advocates say it usually takes several hours for someone to die of a drug overdose, but people who witness them are reluctant to call 911 because they’re afraid of being arrested. The new law would give such callers immunity for drug possession and related minor offenses.

Critics say the laws are unnecessary and could be exploited to allow for a variety of illegal conduct.

The bill was approved unanimously by the D.C. Council, and Gray signed it on Friday. It will become law after a review by Congress.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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