Pavlov sponsors bills to keep drugged drivers off roads

LANSING—State Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, has introduced legislation to help law enforcement agencies keep habitual drugged driving offenders off the roads.

“Drugged driving is as dangerous as drunk driving,” Pavlov said. “This bill package gives law enforcement the tools needed to protect our families and keep our streets safe.”

Senate Bills 863 – 865 improve the flow of information between different law enforcement jurisdictions regarding people with a pending toxicology report in an Operating Under the Influence of Drugs (OUID) arrest.

Currently, if a law enforcement officer pulls over an individual who has been arrested for OUID in the past but has a pending toxicology report, the officer is not able to see that arrest in the state’s Law Enforcement Information Network until the results come back from the Michigan State Police Crime Lab and the person is formally charged.

“We have found that due to the delay of receiving a certified toxicology report from the Michigan Crime Lab, prosecutors are hesitant to charge until they have the report in hand,” Pavlov said. “In most cases the prosecution needs the report for the arrest warrant. These bills will help ensure these reports get to the right people at the right time.”

The legislation is designed to catch repeat offenders. Under the bills, if a driver is out on bond for a drugged driving case and is stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, the police officer can immediately arrest the person, and the driver’s bond can be revoked.

The bill package was prompted by the case of Lisa Bergman, a Port Huron Township woman convicted of second-degree murder in the deaths of two St. Clair County men. Bergman was believed to have been driving while impaired by prescription drugs last summer when her vehicle crashed into the men’s truck, killing them.

Bergman had previously been stopped by police numerous times on suspicion of driving while impaired by prescription drugs.

“I am hopeful these bills can help prevent future tragedies,” Pavlov said.

Pavlov’s bills are identical to measures introduced in the state House by Rep. Dan Lauwers.

SBs 863 – 865 have been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.