A Kentucky Republican lawmaker wants to suspend driving privileges for suspected drugged drivers before they’ve been convicted of any crime.
State Sen. John Schickel (R-Union) plans to introduce a bill at the next legislative session, which begins next month, that would allow authorities to suspend the driver’s licenses for motorists found overdosed behind the wheel or who test positive for opioids, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Northern Kentucky and other areas of suburban Cincinnati have seen an increase of heroin-related crashes in recent years, including a September 2015 wreck that killed four people in Fort Wright.
An official from Fort Thomas rode along earlier this year with a special patrol set up to police drugged drivers along Interstate 471, and he reported four heroin-related stops in about five hours — including a woman who was actively injecting the drug while driving.
Under Schickel’s measure, all four of those drivers could have lost their license immediately.
Rob Sanders, the Kenton County commonwealth’s attorney, said Schickel’s bill was similar to a Kentucky law that requires people who have had seizures to remain seizure-free for 90 days before getting a driver’s license.
In those cases, license denials may be appealed to a medical review board.
“Once an addict can demonstrate the ability to go without heroin for the same time period a driver is required to go without a seizure, their license can be returned,” Sanders said.
Sanders reported 38 felony prosecutions involving opiate use and motor vehicles since Oct. 1 in Kenton County alone.
He said the defendants in each case admitted to using drugs or in recovery from drug addiction.
Kentucky prohibits driving while under the influence of any substance that impairs the ability to drive, and prosecutors have discretion to file charges when blood tests reveal the presence of drugs within two hours of operating a motor vehicle.