SACRAMENTO – California lawmakers rejected a proposal by Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) to authorize roadside drug “breathalyzer” tests.
Assembly Bill 1356 failed to pass the Assembly Public Safety Committee Tuesday.
According to Lackey, a broad coalition of roadway safety organizations and law enforcement supported AB 1356, which would have put California on the cutting edge of fighting drugged driving. However, the bill was reportedly opposed by defense attorneys and the Drug Policy Alliance.
“Officers have numerous tools to deal with drunk drivers but lack the equivalent for drugs,” Lackey stated in a news release. “I hope California will have the courage to act in the future, but today was clearly a setback for roadway safety.”
“I am disappointed that California will not be moving forward with a common sense tool to help keep high drivers off the roads,” Candace Lightner, President of We Save Lives, Founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and co-sponsor of AB 1356 stated in a news release. “Failing to pass Assembly Bill 1356 takes California in the wrong direction for keeping its roads safe and preventing victims of deadly crashes.”
AB 1356 would have authorized the use of a roadside drug breathalyzer after a driver had been pulled over with probable cause and after failing a traditional field sobriety test.
To get a conviction, prosecutors would still need to prove the driver was impaired by drugs using a variety of evidence ranging from the officer’s account of what happened to blood tests given when in police custody.
Lackey said AB 1356 would be reconsidered for passage in January 2016.