Michigan session ends: no support for idling rule, roadside drug tests

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/7/2010

One bill that failed to gain any momentum during the session was a proposed rule to crack down on the unnecessary idling of trucks. Another issue that will have to wait until next year for further consideration was an effort to crack down on anyone behind the wheel who is driving under the influence of drugs.

The bill sought to make Michigan the first state in the nation to use a new portable drug testing kit. Police officers with reasonable cause would have been allowed to administer roadside drug testing.

Suspected drugged drivers would have been required to submit to a preliminary oral drug test during a traffic stop. The test can detect drug use in six categories, including marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine. Results would be available in a matter of minutes.

If the preliminary test is positive, additional screening would have been required.

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA director of regulatory affairs, noted that vehicle operators are subject to implied consent laws when it comes to suspicion of driving under the influence, whether it is alcohol or drugs.

The legislation would have enabled law enforcement to use a tool similar to the preliminary breath test to identify a driver operating under the influence of drugs.

“This is a preferable tool when compared to initiatives in some states granting law enforcement the ability to shove a needle into someone’s arm at roadside,” Rajkovacz said.

Another bill left for the scrap pile called for prohibiting commercial vehicles from idling for more than five minutes per hour. While loading or unloading, idling would have been allowed for up to 30 minutes each hour.

Exemptions included situations when idling is necessary to operate defrosters, heaters, air conditioners, or “during installation of equipment, solely to prevent a safety or health emergency.” It also specified that auxiliary power units, gen sets, or other idle-reduction technology would be allowed.

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.