New Kansas law mandates drug test for drivers in ‘serious’ wrecks

| 5/29/2008

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has signed a bill into law mandating that drivers involved in “serious” traffic wrecks in Kansas be required to submit to alcohol and drug testing. It takes effect July 1.

State law already allows law enforcement officers to order testing if there is “reasonable suspicion” a driver is under the influence. The new law, previously HB2617, requires truckers and other drivers to undergo drug and alcohol testing when they are involved in certain types of wrecks.

Officers no longer need the presumption of an alcohol or drug violation to force drivers to submit to the testing.

Supporters said the new rule is needed to make it easier to test people involved in wrecks that result in fatalities or serious injuries. The bill allows law enforcement to collect evidence for potential criminal prosecutions, they said.

Opponents said it is unconstitutional to force someone to submit to a blood or urine test if there is no probable cause to suspect them of a crime.

A provision that was removed from the bill while it was winding its way through the statehouse would have required passengers to also undergo the mandatory testing.

The final version of the bill permits people to refuse to allow blood to be drawn. Taking that route, however, could result in loss of driving privileges.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Kansas in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor