Avoiding Criminal Charges When Calling 911 to Report an Overdose

Drug abuse is at an all-time high in West Virginia. Unsurprisingly, so are fatal drug overdoses. In an effort to prevent deaths by overdose, the legislature passed the Alcohol and Drug Overdose Prevention and Clemency Act. This law is aimed at encouraging people to call for help if they see someone overdosing, even if the person calling is engaged in behavior that would usually be a crime.

What Must a Person Do to Benefit from the Act?
In order to avoid prosecution, a person seeking the protection of the Act must do all the following:

  • seek medical assistance for a person who appears to be overdosing;

  • stay with the overdosing person until help arrives;

  • cooperate with and provide relevant information to medical personnel and law enforcement; and

  • identify himself or herself to medical personnel or law enforcement upon request.


For Which Offenses Does the Act Bar Prosecution?

A person may not be charged with any of the following offenses if he or she completed all the above requirements of the Act. This is not an exhaustive list; however, it does contain the most common applications of the Act.

  • Underage consumption of alcohol

  • Using a fake ID or lying about your age to obtain alcohol

  • Possessing a controlled substance

  • Public intoxication


What About the Person Who Overdosed?

The person who overdosed receives the same protection from the Act as the person who called for help if he or she subsequently agrees to participate in a rehabilitation or treatment program approved by the Court. The Court may also consider other alternative sentencing or clemency options, such as diversion agreements or drug court.

To discuss whether the Alcohol and Drug Overdose Prevention and Clemency Act applies to your case, contact DeVore Law Office, PLLC at (304) 699-0107, or by email at info@devorelaw.net.