Kansas lawmakers want mandatory roadside drug testing

| 11/15/2007

An interim legislative panel in Kansas is calling for legislation to get tough with people potentially driving under the influence of drugs when they were involved in wrecks that result in injuries.

The House-Senate Judiciary Committee voted to recommend a bill during the 2008 regular session that would mandate roadside drug testing of drivers by use of an oral swab at wreck scenes where there was an injury or a death.

Supporters say the requirement is needed because of several recent fatal traffic incidents where people who caused the wrecks were not tested for drug use. Opponents say requiring a swab test is an infringement on an individual’s rights of privacy.

Advocates for the stricter rule also say if the presence of drugs is detected with oral swabs, probable cause could exist to get a search warrant for a blood sample.

The proposed legislation would allow a person to refuse to submit to the test, but they would lose their driving privileges for one year. The bill can be considered once the 2008 session begins in January.

Kansas law now authorizes up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine for vehicular homicide, the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper reported.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Kansas in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor