Approximately 14 months ago, two (2) young men, Koby Raymo, 20, and Russell Ward, 19, were killed in a collision with a vehicle being driven by 31-year-old Lisa Bergman who was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash. Bergman was driving on Lapeer Road in Kimball Township when her vehicle crossed the center line striking the truck being driven in the opposite direction by Raymo and Ward. At the time of the fatal collision, it was learned that police were actually awaiting toxicology results from two (2) prior incidents involving Bergman where she was believed to have been driving while impaired by prescription drugs. Due to a tremendous backlog of toxicology tests, and no reporting or tracking system available, officials realized that they had no means in which to keep Bergman off of the road or to track her prior encounters with law enforcement.
After this tragic accident, legislation was quickly developed to address this and other problems associated with suspected drugged drivers. Initiated as Senate Bill 683 and codified and signed as Public Act 316 of 2014, this new piece of legislation first allows police officers at the time of the stop to initially conduct a "preliminary roadside analysis" of suspected drugged drivers. This roadside analysis is theoretically designed to determine the presence of alcohol, a controlled substance, any other intoxicating substance, or any combination of those substances, in a driver's body. The analysis is substantially similar to the one already in place for suspected drunk drivers. It is interesting to note, however, that a proposed provision that was eliminated from the original bill would have allowed police officers also to conduct saliva field testing through a mouth swab of the individual at the scene. Ultimately, this provision was removed due to strong concerns raised about the inherent reliability of the test results.
Officials at an arraignment hearing are now also empowered by this new law to issue a conditional bond, and a temporary paper permit license, to individuals arrested on suspicion of drugged driving pending toxicology results. If that same individual is arrested a second time while on this conditional bond they will be incarcerated immediately with the goal being to keep repeat drugged driving offenders off of the road. Here are some the highlights of this bill:
- Authorizing the court to release the defendant subject to conditions necessary for the protection of the public;
- Requiring the court order to be entered into the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN);
- Requiring the defendant to be informed that, as a condition of release, he or she could not operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, and/or another intoxicating substance; and,
- Requiring the defendant to be informed that he or she would be subject to warrantless arrest and bail revocation if he or she violated that condition.
An excellent analysis of this bill may also found in the following link:
Without question, there will be some individuals facing arrest under this bill that are not the intended focus of this law. Accordingly, it is very important for the general public to recognize that drugged driving does include those individuals who are operating a motor vehicle under the influence of prescription medications and those individuals operating a motor vehicle under the influence of legally prescribed medical marijuana. It is absolutely critical, therefore, to use good common sense while operating a motor vehicle and follow any directives on prescribed medications. Even if you no longer feel the effects of your particular medication you are still very much at risk of facing a positive toxicology result in the event that you are stopped by police and under suspicion that your driving is impaired by drugs. The legal ramifications of drugged driving, similar to drunk driving, are quite severe and include the possibility of significant jail or prison time. If you have any further questions regarding Michigan's new drugged driving legislation, or need assistance about any other criminal or personal injury matters, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time for an absolutely free and completely confidential consultation.