SB 459 - Nevada's Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act (NRS Chapter 453C)
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyers

young man lying unconscious next to pill bottle

In 2015, the Nevada legislature passed SB 459, known as the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act (“Act”).

The Act prevents you from being prosecuted for many narcotics-related offenses when you seek good-faith medical assistance for yourself or another person for a drug or alcohol overdose or other medical emergency.[1] It is set forth in Chapter 453C of the Nevada Revised Statutes.

Nevada's Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act also provides immunity to:

  • Health care professionals who prescribe or dispense opioid antagonists such as Narcan (Naloxone); and
  • Police, EMTs, paramedics and others who, in good faith, possess and administer an opioid antagonist to someone they reasonably believe is experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose.

To help you better understand Nevada's Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, our Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada criminal defense lawyers discuss the following, below:

woman calling 911 for friend who is lying on couch

1. How Nevada law defines “drug or alcohol overdose”

“Drug or alcohol overdose” is defined in NRS 453C.150 (5), which provides:

As used in this section, “drug or alcohol overdose” means a condition, including, without limitation, extreme physical illness, a decreased level of consciousness, respiratory depression, coma, mania or death which is caused by the consumption or use of a controlled substance or alcohol, or another substance with which a controlled substance or alcohol was combined, or that an ordinary layperson would reasonably believe to be a drug or alcohol overdose that requires medical assistance.

2. What am I immune from under Nevada's Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Law?

Under Nevada's Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act (SB 459), you may not be arrested, charged, prosecuted or convicted, or have your property subjected to forfeiture, or be otherwise penalized for:

  • Use of a controlled substance;
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia; 
  • Violation of a restraining order;
  • Violation of a condition of your parole or probation; or
  • Possession of narcotics unless:
    • The drugs are GHB or Rohypnol and you do not have a prescription,
    • You possessed the drugs with the intent to sell them, 
    • You had more than 12 marijuana plants, or
    • You had more than 200 grams of any Schedule II controlled substance.[2]

3. What steps must I take for SB 459 immunity to apply?

To make use of the immunity provided by Nevada's Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, you must:

  • Report an overdose or other medical emergency to law enforcement, 911, a poison control center, a medical facility or a provider of emergency medical services;
  • Assist another person making such a report;
  • Provide care to a person who is experiencing an overdose or other medical emergency while awaiting the arrival of medical assistance; or
  • Deliver a person experiencing an overdose or emergency to a medical facility and notify the appropriate authorities.

4. Am I still at risk of prosecution if I call 911 to report an overdose?

It is important to note that the immunity conferred by SB 459 does not prohibit the government from taking actions required or authorized by law relating to the abuse or neglect of a child.[3]

Additionally, immunity under Nevada's Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act applies solely to evidence of drug possession and use obtained as a result of seeking medical assistance.[4] It does not protect you from prosecution for drug offenses discovered in any other way, or to evidence of other crimes. It also does not protect anyone present at the scene who is not involved in notifying the authorities of a potential overdose.

  • Example: Alex is having a party at her house, during which she and some of the guests are shooting heroin. As the evening progresses, Alex sees that her friend Bill seems to be passing out. She calls 911 and tries to keep Bill awake while she waits for the paramedics. In the interim, however, unbeknownst to Alex, her neighbors have called the police with a noise complaint. The police arrive first and arrest Alex and Bill for heroin possession. Because the evidence was not discovered as a result of reporting the overdose, the immunity does not apply and Alex and Bill can be prosecuted.

5. SB 459 immunity for healthcare professionals

Nevada's Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act also provides immunity to health care professionals who prescribe and dispense (either directly or by standing order) Narcan, Naloxone or another opioid antagonist for a legitimate medical purpose and in the usual course of professional practice to:

  • A person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose; or
  • A family member, friend or other person in a position to assist a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose.[5]

The Act also provides immunity from criminal prosecution, professional discipline or sanction, or civil liability to law enforcement officers, EMTs and paramedics who, acting in good faith, possess and/or administer an opioid antagonist to someone they reasonably believe to be experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose.

Arrested for a drug offense in Las Vegas or Reno? Call us for help…

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If you or someone you know has been charged with a violation of Nevada drug laws, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.

Our caring Las Vegas drug crimes lawyers know all the best defenses to Nevada drug charges – including SB 459 immunity.

To find out how we can fight to keep you from having a Nevada drug offense on your criminal record, fill out the form on this page or call us at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673).

If you were arrested in California, you may wish to speak to one of our California drug defense lawyers.

Legal references:

  1. NRS 453C.150.
  2. NRS 453C.150(1).
  3. NRS 453C.150(4).
  4. NRS 453C.150(1).
  5. NRS 453C.100.

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