State Assembly Bill combats drugged driving

Signal File Photo.

California Highway Patrol is on the road to having a taskforce to aid in fighting drug-impaired driving, after Assemblyman Tom Lackey’s (R-Palmdale) Assembly Bill 6 was passed unanimously Thursday.

The bill is a response to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Proposition 64, and would have CHP develop practices and test technologies to help officers spot drivers who are under the influence of drugs.

“As someone who spent 28 years with the CHP, I know how dangerous an impaired driver can be,” Lackey said in a statement. “To deal with a problem as complex as drugged driving, we need a coordinated response based on strong science and best practices. This CHP-led taskforce will make sure that happens.”

Prop 64 included funding for CHP to create enforcement programs for driving under the influence of drugs. AB 6 would formalize CHP as the state’s lead agency for drugged driving, which would also include prescription and illicit drugs, Lackey’s office said.

President of the California Police Chiefs Association Chief Edward Medrano said in a statement that identifying and prosecuting drivers under the influence of drugs is currently a challenge for law enforcement.

“Utilizing the roadway safety expertise of CHP to develop best practices and test new technology will help California officers deal with the challenge of legal recreational marijuana and rising abuse of prescription drugs,” Medrano said.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey in 2014 found that 20 percent of California drivers on weekend nights have drugs in their system, per Lackey’s office.

Additionally, the number of fatal crashes involving drugs or the combination of drugs and alcohol surpassed those involving alcohol in 2012 and 2013, the Department of Motor Vehicles reported in 2015.

Assembly Bill 6 will now go to the State Senate for approval.

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