Wisconsin drugged-driving bill moves forward

| 10/9/2003

The Wisconsin Assembly has passed legislation toughening penalties on people who drive while on drugs.

Dubbed the “Baby Luke Bill,” AB458 was written largely in response to the December 2001 case of Michelle Logemann, Waukesha, WI, whose car was struck by a van driven by Paul D. Wilson. Prosecutors said Wilson ingested cocaine and ran a red light in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The bill, which was forwarded to the Senate Sept. 24, would make it easier to prosecute drivers who use illegal drugs by requiring only a showing that the driver had an illegal drug in his or her system. Current law requires authorities to prove the illegal drug actually impaired the driver.

“These mind-altering drugs are so dangerous it is illegal to sell, distribute or even possess them. It makes perfect sense that a person should not be permitted to shoot up with heroine or do a few lines of cocaine and then get behind the wheel of a 2,000 pound bullet,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mark Gundrum, R-New Berlin, said in a statement.

Logemann, who was 30 weeks pregnant, was critically injured in the crash, and lost her young son hours after an emergency Caesarean section was performed.

Forensic toxicologists were unable to prove Wilson was impaired. Wilson pleaded no contest to homicide by negligent use of a vehicle and was sentenced to a maximum two-year sentence.

Under the bill, drugged drivers could face the same penalties as drunken drivers, providing a 40-year sentence for causing the death of someone else.