ALBANY -- State legislators Monday gave final passage to what Long Island parents called the "911 Good Samaritan" bill, a measure they said could dramatically reduce deaths from drug overdose.

The bill is intended to address a scenario in which someone overdoses and the person's friends don't call 911 for medical help because they are afraid to be arrested on drug charges. The measure would essentially limit police from going after the caller for possession of small amounts of drugs or alcohol.

The action came two weeks after a group of Long Island parents and drug-and-alcohol counselors came to the Capitol to lobby for the bill, saying it would save lives.

"We're thrilled. This sends a clear message that it's OK that you call for help," said Jeffrey Reynolds, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. He said the issue is especially troubling on the Island, which saw 370 overdose deaths in 2009.

"We know that fatal overdose doesn't happen spontaneously. It [death] often takes one to three hours," he said. "That means many deaths are preventable."

In other Island-related legislation, the Legislature passed a bill dubbed "Complete Streets" that would require pedestrian and bicyclist safety to be considered when designing roads and transportation facilities that use state and federal funding.

With Ted Phillips

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