New law from Sen. Maxmin to strengthen Good Samaritan protections takes effect this month

Posted: August 23, 2022 | Senator Maxmin

AUGUSTA — A new law sponsored by Sen. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, to prevent overdose deaths by strengthening Maine’s Good Samaritan protections took effect this month. The new law clarifies and expands Maine’s existing Good Samaritan law to encourage people to call for help when they or someone they are with is experiencing an overdose.

“With record numbers of Mainers dying from overdoses, the odds are that this crisis has personally touched us or someone we love,” said Sen. Maxmin. “We must be doing everything within our power to save lives, and the recovery community was loud and clear that expanded Good Samaritan protections would make a difference. I’m so grateful to them for their advocacy and to everyone who worked hard to get this across the finish line. Maine will be better for it.”

Under the previous iteration of Maine’s current Good Samaritan law, which became law in 2019, those who seek medical assistance in good faith for someone experiencing an overdose, and the person experiencing the overdose, are immune from arrest and prosecution for a narrow set of crimes if evidence of those crimes is obtained by law enforcement at the scene. Those in the recovery community reported widespread confusion about which offenses were included in the law and who was protected. This meant people were too afraid to call 911 in the vast majority of overdose cases.

Sen. Maxmin’s new law extends Good Samaritan protections to anyone at the scene of an overdose who seeks medical assistance or who actively renders aid to the overdosing person while awaiting assistance from law enforcement or medical professionals. It also expands the offenses that are immune from arrest and prosecution to reduce confusion about which offenses are protected under the law. Violent crimes, sex crimes and crimes against children are exempt from the Good Samaritan law and are not subject to protections. Independently obtained evidence of crimes – meaning evidence that was not obtained as a direct result of the call for help – can still be used as the basis of arrest or prosecution.

All non-emergency laws take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die unless otherwise specified. 

Other laws championed by Sen. Maxmin that took effect this year include measures to combat high-energy prices, improve access to health care and prescription drugs, promote economic opportunity and support working families, seniors and veterans.