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Good Samaritan Act Backed by Twp. Mom Awaits Christie's Signature

Championed by Patty DiRenzo, whose son died of a drug overdose, the bill now goes to Gov. Christie's desk.

Good Samaritan Act Backed by Twp. Mom Awaits Christie's Signature Good Samaritan Act Backed by Twp. Mom Awaits Christie's Signature

Just one signature—Gov. Chris Christie's—separates the Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act from becoming state law.

The New Jersey Senate on Monday passed the bill designed to protect anyone who calls 911 to ask for medical assistance for a potential drug overdose. 

Gloucester Township resident Patty DiRenzo has been a huge supporter of the bill, also known as the 911 Good Samaritan Law. from an accidental drug overdose. Since then, Patty has made it her mission to support this legislation that may prevent deaths similar to Sal's.

“It's bittersweet,” DiRenzo said. “This isn't want I want to be doing, celebrating. But I did this in his memory and it looks like he won't die in vain.

“The fact we were able to push the legislation through the state and onto the governor's desk in less than two years is just amazing,” she added.

In the proposed bill, witnesses of a drug overdose who call 911 would not be subject to:

  • an arrest, charge, prosecution, or conviction for: (1) obtaining, possessing, using, or being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance; (2) inhaling the fumes of or possessing any toxic chemical (3) using, obtaining, attempting to obtain, or possessing any prescription drugs (4) acquiring or obtaining possession of a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog by fraud (5) unlawfully possessing a controlled dangerous substance that was lawfully prescribed or dispensed (6) using or possessing with the intent to use drug paraphernalia, or having under his control or possessing a hypodermic syringe, needle, or other instrument; 
  • any penalty prescribed for a violation of a restraining order; 
  • any sanction for a violation of a condition of parole;
  • the revocation or modification of the conditions of probation; or
  • the forfeiture of any personal property other than drugs or drug paraphernalia involved.

The state Assembly passed the bill in May, while the state passed it Aug. 20 by a vote of 21-10.

The Good Samaritan Act faced a number of hurdles to get to this point. It was put on hold at the end of the June session

Supporters of the bill pushed for its implementation tirelessly, DiRenzo said. Getting the word out about the legislation was the hardest part.

“It's a lot of work,” she recalled. “Once a week I was sending editorials, columns, opinion pages and letters and sent them to politicians and newspapers. Legislators need to hear from you.”

DiRenzo will now focus her efforts, and her letters, on Christie. While she doesn't know if the governor plans to sign the bill into law, she plans to do everything in her power to convince him to in the coming weeks.

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