Proposed Law Would Require More Drug Testing in Fatal Accidents

Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) and Assemblyman William Brough (R-Dana Point) have introduced Senate Bill 283 and Assembly Bill 551 to require law enforcement to drug test in cases of fatalities occurring within 48 hours of a traffic collision. Current state law only requires medical examiners or county coroners to test deceased drivers and passengers for alcohol, but not for drugs. These bills will update current law and ensure that all municipalities are conducting drug testing involving cases of fatal collisions and to report the data to the California Highway Patrol.

“As California adjusts to the legalization of recreational marijuana and grapples with the opioid epidemic, we need to provide law enforcement with every legislative tool possible to prevent more collisions from occurring. In Orange County, law enforcement has seen a shocking 600 percent increase in driving under the influence of fentanyl cases. Having more information available on the causes of fatal collisions could help save lives in the future,” said Senator Bates.

Assemblyman Brough added, “As recreational marijuana spreads and the opioid epidemic continues on, the number of drugged drivers killed in car crashes is rising dramatically. Updating our laws to reflect the public safety concerns of today is a good idea. Law enforcement has 30 years of research reviewing the relationship between the amount of alcohol is in a person’s blood and the likelihood they will cause a traffic collision. However, they don’t have the data for drugs which is why Senator Bates and I have authored similar legislation to assist law enforcement. Collecting this data will help us to enact better policies, which will keep everyone safe on the roadways.”

Senator Bates and Assemblyman Brough have authored the legislation in partnership with Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes. Currently, Orange County is one of the few municipalities in the state that voluntarily test for drugs when investigating fatal collisions. Meanwhile, dozens of cases possibly involving drugs are going undetected statewide, so SB 283 and AB 551 would require local governments to conduct drug testing for all fatal collisions.

“The increases seen in driving under the influence of drugs is a major public safety concern. Policy makers need reliable data in order to correctly address the problem. Ensuring testing of all fatalities will be an important tool for keeping our roads safe,” said Sheriff Barnes.

Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) represents the 36th Senate District in the California Legislature, which covers South Orange County, North San Diego County, and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. She is the Senate Republican Leader.

Assemblyman William P. Brough represents California’s 73rd Assembly District in the Legislature, which includes the communities of Aliso Viejo, Coto de Caza, Dana Point, Ladera Ranch, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Las Flores, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano.

The article above was released by California State Senator Patricia Bates (R-CA73).


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