New state legislation could extend criminal immunity to people seeking medical aid during an overdose

Posted at 5:33 AM, Feb 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-14 07:53:18-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — New legislation making its way through the state House and Senate could provide more immunity to people during an overdose. It could open the door for people to be more willing to call 911 in an overdose emergency and not have to worry about legal consequences.

Overdoses killed more than 500 people in Davidson County alone in 2021. Right now if someone is experiencing an overdose, criminal immunity is only offered to people on their first offense if they were to call for help.

This bill extends that immunity regardless of how many times they've called. In turn, it would take away the fear of maybe not calling for help so the person wouldn't face certain charges or arrest.

Overdosing is an increasing problem in Tennessee, especially with the rise of fentanyl. The most recent data from the Department of Health shows more than 3,800 people died of overdoses statewide in 2021 and in 2020 more than 7,000 people were hospitalized after a non-fatal overdose.

The bill will be discussed in both Senate and House committees Tuesday.