Friday, 12 November 2021 22:45

MA Gov. Refiles Legislation to Combat Impaired Driving

Written by Brent Addleman, The Center Square


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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced he has refiled legislation aimed at curbing impaired driving.

Baker said the Trooper Thomas Clardy Law is designed to make Massachusetts' roadways safer while instilling uniform standards, promoting strategies designed to reduce motor vehicle crashes and using recommendations from the Special Commission on Operating Under the influence and Impaired Driving.


“This legislation aims to make the Commonwealth’s roads safer and save lives, and we are grateful to the Clardy family for offering their family’s name and support for this legislation, which will help us avoid impaired driving incidents in the future,” Baker said in a news release. “This bill will provide law enforcement officers with more rigorous drug detection training and will strengthen the legal process by authorizing the courts to acknowledge that the active ingredient in marijuana can and does impair motorists. The bill draws on thoughtful recommendations from a broad cross-section of stakeholders, and we look forward to working with our legislative colleagues to pass this bill and make our roads safer."


The proposed law is named after state Trooper Thomas Clardy, who was struck and killed March 16, 2016, while parked in his cruiser by a speeding motorist, who, according to the release, was an impaired driver and crossed three lanes of traffic before striking Clardy’s vehicle.


This is the second time the proposed legislation has been filed. The legislation was first filed in 2019, coming off the legalization of marijuana in which the Special Commission on Operating Under the Influence and Impaired Driving issued recommendations on policing, prosecution, criminal defense bar, medicine and toxicology, and civil liberties.


The refiled bill, according to the release, includes many proposed changes, including adopting implied consent laws to...

...suspend driver’s licenses of motorists refusing to cooperate with drug testing and breath testing, and adopts a statute allowing the courts to recognize ingesting THC impairs drivers.


The law would call for expanding the training for drug recognition experts and allowing them to testify as witnesses.


The proposed legislation also calls for the prevention of drivers from having loose or unsealed marijuana packages in the driver’s compartment and recognizing the effectiveness of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. The legislation also would give police officers the power to seek electronic search warrants for chemical intoxication and any blood draw having to be approved by a neutral magistrate.


According to the release, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported traffic fatalities are at a 15-year high in the first six months of this year, attributing those fatalities to an increase in impaired driving.


The NHTSA, according to the release, conducted a review of the trauma center in Worcester, MA, revealing 56% of fatally and seriously injured drivers tested positive to one impairing substance, a 50.8% increase from before the COVID-19 pandemic began.


We thank The Center Square for reprint permission.


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