By John Cheves – firstname.lastname@example.org
FRANKFORT — The Kentucky House on Monday briefly toughened the state’s drunken driving law in a move that surprised some lawmakers because they thought they were dealing with another subject.
Minutes later, a lawmaker who voted for the bill filed a motion for reconsideration, which undoes Monday’s votes and puts the bill back in the House for possible action in the future, said Brian Wilkerson, spokesman for House Speaker Greg Stumbo.
“It’s like we do it all over again,” Wilkerson said.
He said he did not know which lawmaker filed the motion.
House Bill 265, as amended by the Senate, would prohibit possession or trafficking in “synthetic cannabinoids” — man-made drugs with high levels of THC, which gives marijuana its natural potency. Synthetic cannabinoids are starting to turn up at head shops and elsewhere around the country.
However, the Senate also added a section to the bill changing portions of the driving under the influence law.
Under those changes, anyone with detectable levels of more than a dozen different types of drugs in their blood would be presumed guilty of DUI, including amphetamines, cocaine, methamphetamines and oxycodone, unless they had a prescription.
Also, the bill drops from 0.18 to 0.15 the level at which suspects’ blood alcohol becomes an aggravating factor in their cases and mandates jail sentences if they are convicted.
House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, briefly noted in a floor speech that the amended bill makes significant changes to DUI law, but without the House having discussed them. The House then voted 65-to-16 to accept the Senate’s changes and 84-14 to give final approval to the bill as amended.