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House briefly toughens DUI law, changes mind

March 29, 2010 | | Comments 12

By John Cheves – jcheves@herald-leader.com

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.

Filed Under: KY CourtsKY General Assembly

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  1. Caleb Powers says:

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m not in favor of driving under the influence of any intoxicant, but I fear that this bill is unconstitutional, because it makes a presumption, that a person with ANY level of illegal substance in his body is intoxicated, when many of these substances stay in a person’s body for days or weeks.

    The purpose of this is to get around the real problem in these prosecutions: There is no effective way to test the amount of any chemical in one’s bloodstream in a typical DUI arrest situation. With alcohol, one can do a breath test, but most other substances are not so easy.

    Once again, our legislature substitutes easy for right, but don’t worry: My prediction is that the law will be declared unconstitutional the first test it gets.

  2. Jesus Shuttlesworth says:

    Just a grab for more cash. Fact is, they will not be able to test for the substances outlined so that it may be prosecuted. What does happen is lower that aggrivated number down to .15 and this will surely generate a big number of increased fines. The folks in Frankfort are more worried about collecting cash from the drunks than actually fixing the problem.

  3. Watch Dog says:

    I can see it now: Get your pain meds from our doctor and avoid a DUI.
    The way this law is written all you need to do is find a doctor to prescribe your oxycontin or amphetamines and you are legal as far as the DUI goes. DUI is DUI. Having a prescription should make no difference. Having or taking these drugs without your own prescription is a felony but this law is about DUI.

    Lets hope Gov. Beshear will veto this and send it back for corrections.

  4. Floyd's Nob says:

    Have we figured out a way to test invisible drivers like the Gregster has?

  5. Frankie Ray Hall says:

    Our government is a joke. I know people personally who have had 3 and 4 DUI’s and are still out there driving LEGALLY. It’s all about fines and money. Do you really think the state gives a crap about who dies in car wrecks or how they die??? All they care about is that green stuff.

  6. Stone D'Again says:

    Hilarious. Maybe they’ll take up intelligent design next….

    Try knowing what you’re voting for, already. How hard is it?

    Triple har.

  7. Stone D'Again says:

    PS — Syntax police note. If you test positive for a dozen different drugs, yeah, you’d be pretty loaded.

  8. ray d, crank says:

    we have been in a, so called law suit for six, yr now. can’t even make them show up for deposition with a subpoena can you beleave this? when it come’s to (just-us) in this state, if you have the money/ they have the time. this is an abortion of justice if i ever saw it? ky, has become the enviromental, St. all about the green,

  9. frommars says:

    The law might make sense if there were ways to determine what detectable amounts constitute driving impaired. The problem with the language is what does detectable mean? With the sensitivity of the tests nowadays and the fact that many tests detect breakdown products and not the active compound which presumably impairs one, I can’t see how this law could possibly be constitutional.

  10. yar says:

    It is interesting that lawmakers will suspend a drivers license but not suspend the ability to purchase alcohol. I would confiscate any item used in the act of driving under the influence, and remove the right to drive or purchase alcohol.
    They talked about removing the right to purchase cold medicine for those convicted of making meth. Good idea but take it a step further and include abuse of all drugs and alcohol.

  11. Colorful says:

    There is nothing unconstitutional about creating a presumption of intoxication if there is a certain level – be it .08 or a ‘detectable’ level – of intoxicants in someone’s bloodstream.

  12. fedup2here says:

    They must have thought they were voting for raises for themselves!!!!