FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 19, 2016
CONTACT: Bill Bird @ 916-651-4029
Senate Public Safety Committee Approves Drugged Driving Legislation
Mother of Sacramento Victim Testifies in Support of Huff Measure
SACRAMENTO: Legislation designed to crack down on the growing problem of drugged drivers on California roads passed a key policy test in the Senate Public Safety Committee and will move forward in the legislative process. SB 1462, authored by Senator Bob Huff (R-San Dimas), will allow law enforcement officers to use roadside oral swab drug screening tests when there is probable cause that a driver is impaired and the driver has failed sobriety field tests.
“The fact is that we have sadly become a self-medicating careless culture,” said Senator Huff. “People think as long as they are not drunk behind the wheel, they can avoid scrutiny because we lack the same roadside deterrents to detect drugs, like we do alcohol. It is incumbent upon us to help law enforcement attain every tool necessary to get drug abusers off the road before more families are forever crushed by life-altering tragedy.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) in 2014 found the number of drivers with the presence of drugs in their system has been dramatically increasing:
From 16.3 percent of drivers on weekend nights in 2007, to 20 percent in 2014. The NHTSA estimates that more than a half million Americans are injured in DUI-D crashes each year, and that DUI-D collisions cost the U.S. economy more than $60 billion annually.
Gail Randall, the mother of Harison Long-Randall, testified on behalf of SB 1462 during the hearing. Harison was 21 years old when he was hit by a speeding car in Carmichael nearly three years ago, leading to his death 13 days later. The driver, Paul William Walden, was later convicted of second-degree murder, felony hit-and-run and gross vehicular manslaughter. Prosecutors alleged that Walden had either shot up heroin or was on a reckless search for the drug before the accident took place. A drug test revealed the presence of Xanax in his system when he was pulled over days after the crash and taken into custody.
“I live with the knowledge every day of my life, since the death of my son, that if we as citizens and legislators don’t do something to curb drugged DUIs, the problem will only continue to escalate,” Randall told committee members. “I refuse to sit back and not do something and let more people get killed and injured, and for my son’s death to be in vain.”
SB 1462 is bipartisan legislation. Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) are principal co-authors of the legislation. The bill is also supported and sponsored by the California Police Chiefs Association, California Narcotic Officers Association and We Save Lives, an international coalition committed to saving lives by preventing crashes and crimes from the 3 Ds: Drunk, Drugged, and Distracted driving.
SB 1462 will allow law enforcement to use oral swab roadside tests as a screening device to detect drivers with drugs in their system when there is probable cause that an officer suspects suspicious or reckless driving and the driver has already failed field sobriety tests.
Senator Huff represents the 29th Senate District covering portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Follow Senator Huff on Twitter at @bobhuff99.