SB 15-116: 2015 Needle-Stick Prevention Law Explained


What does it do?

The needle-stick prevention law encourages individuals who have syringes on their person to disclose them to law enforcement officers prior to a pat-down or vehicle search with the express interest of preserving the safety of those at risk for contracting communicable diseases by unintended needle-sticks during these often risky stops.

Why is compliance with the needle-stick prevention law important to you?

Because, nationally, 30% of law enforcement officers will be inadvertently pricked at least once in their career.  Needle-sticks pose serious threat for the contraction of HIV and Hepatitis C, two diseases that carry lifelong implications for those who are infected.  It is especially relevant in Denver where estimates place hepatitis C infection rates among people who inject drugs as high as three out of four.  HIV infection rates are slightly lower, but still significant; one in ten people who injects drugs in the Denver area is infected with HIV.

This law aims to stop the spread of these diseases and to preserve and promote public safety.

What does the law mean for my practices as a law enforcement officer?

The law changes practices by encouraging individuals to disclose needles in their possession.  When someone you have stopped discloses possession of an injection device prior to pat-down or a vehicle search, they are exempted from arrest, ticketing, or filing of charges for the injection device.

What about residual amounts of controlled substances that may remain in the syringe?

The law also exempts residual amounts of controlled substances left in the syringe.   Remember, this encourages individuals to disclose needles (particularly used syringes) in their possession to keep officers from becoming infected with disease.

Is this law currently in effect?

Yes.  It went into effect July 1, 2015.

Want to read the full text of the law?

Read the PDF here.

Want to learn more about how other states work with Syringe Access Programs?

North Carolina Law Enforcement Guide to Syringe Exchange Programs

Download the index card-sized, printable fact sheet:

SB15-116_index copy copy



Additional Resources:

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