Kansas House approves bill to require drug testing in ‘major’ wrecks

| 2/26/2008

Drivers and passengers involved in “major” traffic wrecks in Kansas would be required to submit to drug testing, if a bill approved by the state’s House becomes law.

State law now allows law enforcement officers to order drug testing, frequently a blood sample, if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is under the influence. The House voted 117-5 to forward a bill to the Senate that would require truckers and other drivers, as well as their passengers, to undergo drug testing when they are involved in certain types of wrecks.

Officers would no longer need a presumption of a drug violation to force drivers to submit to the testing.

Supporters say changes are needed to make it easier to test people involved in wrecks resulting in fatalities or serious injuries. The bill would allow law enforcement to collect evidence for potential criminal prosecutions, they say.

Opponents say 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 added to the bill would permit people to refuse to allow blood to be drawn. Taking that route, however, could result in loss of driving privileges. Another change to the bill would authorize officers to waive the blood test requirement if they believe the actions of the driver did not contribute to the wreck.

The bill – HB2617 – has moved to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor