Impaired driver law tougher: Trace amount of
illegal drug merits arrest
By Beth Smith
Original y published 10:11 p.m., July 23, 2010Updated 10:11 p.m., July 23, 2010 Prosecuting drugged drivers wil likely get easier, thanks to a new Kentucky law that'sbeen in effect for just over a week.
People are now considered impaired drivers if they are found with a detectable level ofcertain control ed substances in their system.
"General y speaking, (the law) makes the presumption that a driver is impaired if theydrive with drugs in their system which would be il egal for them to possess," saidHenderson County Attorney Steve Gold.
"Now the state doesn't have to hire an expert to tel the jury that someone driving whilehigh on cocaine is dangerous," he said.
It has always been and continues to be il egal for someone to drive while impaired,whether the substance is a legal y obtained prescription drug, alcohol or any type ofil egal drug, authorities said.
"What's going to change is when it gets to the court system," said Trooper Corey King,public information officer with Post 16 in Henderson.
"We're stil going to fol ow our same procedure," King said. "When an officer stopssomeone for tel tale signs that someone is impaired, that person wil be given a field-sobriety test. If they fail, they are arrested." "Law enforcement stil needs reasonable suspicion to pul you over," Gold said.
"We don't have to bring in an expert to show that certain levels of (certain) drugsimpairs your driving," he said, adding that it is now il egal for a person to be driving withcertain drugs in his/her system regardless of whether if affects their driving.
If there are detectable amounts of certain drugs in your system, "this is a presumedimpairment" even if you drive perfectly, he said.
Exceptions to the law include those with a valid prescription for a drug and those foundwith marijuana in their system.
People with a valid prescription for a drug found in their system can stil be arrestedand charged for impaired driving if law enforcement has reasonable suspicion that aperson is under the influence. However, the prosecution has to prove that they weredriving while impaired. There isn't a "presumed impairment" simply because of thepresence of a prescription drug in the driver's system, officials said.
As for marijuana, "it stays in the system so much longer" than other drugs that peoplewon't be considered an impaired driver just for having traces of this drug in their blood,Gold said.
The passage of this new law appears to be connected to the rising abuse ofprescription drugs, he said.
"It's skyrocketed and this is how the legislation is trying to address it," Gold said.
The fol owing is a list of control ed substances by which people wil be consideredimpaired if there are traces of them in their system while driving: 2010 Scripps Newspaper Group — Online


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