A new law aimed to curb drugged driving was recently signed by Michigan State Governor Rick Snyder. The law stems from an accident involving two young men, Russell Ward and Koby Raymo. In July 2013, the two men were struck by a drugged driver, Lisa Berman, who had been pulled over six times in five years for drugged driving. Upon arrest, police officers did not know that the drugged driver had previous offenses because there was no information entered into any law enforcement database. Berman was later sentenced to 25 to 50 years for the deaths of the young men.
Immediately following the accident, St. Clair County Sheriff Tim Donnellon and St. Clair County Prosecutor Mike Wendling contacted State Rep. Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway Township, and State Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, to discuss the possibility of drafting legislation aimed at curbing drugged driving.
Under the new law, police officers will now be able to conduct a preliminary roadside test for controlled and intoxicating substances. If a motorist is arrested for drugged driving, a conditional bond will be set in addition to his/her personal information being entered into a law enforcement database. The bond and temporary paper permit will be issued at the arraignment pending toxicology results.
“Michigan motorists who make the reckless and irresponsible decision to use illicit drugs and get behind the wheel will now face the same consequences as drunken drivers, and be taken off the streets sooner,” bill sponsor Rep. Dan Lauwers, a Republican from St. Clair County’s Brockway Township, said in a statement.
“If they’re arrested a second time while they’re on that bond, they’re incarcerated immediately,” Wendling said.
“If they’re multiple-offense drivers, we’ll be able to keep them off the streets,” Donnellon said. “It doesn’t stop the first offenses, it stops the second, the third, and so on.”
“This legislation will help law enforcement crack down on all kinds of impaired driving,” Snyder said in a statement.
Now that the new legislation has been passed, police officers throughout Michigan are undergoing extensive training to successfully conduct roadside drugged driving analysis and ensure the officer’s professional opinions hold up in court.
If you have been arrested for drugged driving in the Washtenaw County area, I invite you to contact me for a consultation. You can contact me directly at 734-274-6567. I provide criminal defense legal representation to Ann Arbor residents accused of drugged and/or drunk driving.