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Friday, 18 April 2014 14:21

St. Clair Co. Prosecutor testifies in support of measure to keep drugged drivers off the streets

(AREA) -- St. Clair County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Wendling testified this week in support of legislation to help keep dangerous motorists off Michigan streets by ensuring immediate jail time for repeat offenders and improved communication between law enforcement agencies. Prosecutor Wendling was invited to Lansing by State Representative Dan Lauwers, who sponsored the legislation. The bills place a conditional bond on drivers who are arrested for operating under the influence of drugs, allow law enforcement to enter a pending chemical analysis and bond into the Law Enforcement Information Network, and require motorists who fail a roadside chemical sobriety exam to be given a permit license similar to a drunken driving offense.

Representative Lauwers said some medical marijuana advocates have mischaracterized the legislation, specifically as it pertains to a saliva test to detect certain drugs. The lawmaker said the new saliva test is currently untested and will not be used statewide until it is thoroughly reviewed.

The legislation was drafted after two Avoca men, Russell Ward and Koby Raymo, were killed in a head-on collision in July 2013 in St. Clair County when a pickup driver crossed the centerline and struck their vehicle. The driver's blood later tested positive for controlled substances. Lisa Bergman has been pulled over six times since 2008 for operating under the influence of drugs, and at the time of the fatal crash, she had two pending cases.

The bills remain under consideration in the House Judiciary Committee.