Michigan governor signs law to target drugged drivers after deaths of 2 young men in crash

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In a photo provided by the Michigan Governors Office, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder talks with the Ward and Raymo families prior to signing bills in Lansing, Mich., Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014 to protect motorists from repeat drugged drivers. Standing with the governor from left, are St. Clair County Sheriff Tim Donnellon, Sen. Phil Pavlov and state Rep. Dan Lauwers. The legislation allows police to conduct a preliminary roadside analysis for controlled and other intoxicating substances. (AP Photo/Michigan Governors Office, Mike Quillinan)


LANSING, Michigan — Gov. Rick Snyder signed laws Tuesday to target drivers under the influence of drugs after two young men were killed in a head-on collision by a repeat drugged driver.

The laws allow police to conduct a preliminary roadside analysis for controlled and other intoxicating substances. A conditional bond is to be placed on a motorist arrested for drugged driving and the information is to be entered into a law enforcement database.

The laws also subject drugged drivers to the same driver's license restrictions as drunken motorists, and give court officials the power to decide bail conditions for all driving impairments.

Legislators sponsored the bills after the July 2013 deaths of Russell Ward and Koby Raymo in St. Clair County.

Lisa Bergman, who was convicted of second-degree murder after crossing the center line and striking their vehicle while under the influence of drugs, had been pulled over six times in five years for drugged driving. Officers didn't know she had multiple offenses because they were not listed in the Law Enforcement Information Network.

"Michigan motorists who make the reckless and irresponsible decision to use illicit drugs and get behind the wheel will now face the same consequences as drunken drivers, and be taken off the streets sooner," bill sponsor Rep. Dan Lauwers, a Republican from St. Clair County's Brockway Township, said in a statement.

"Nothing we do will bring back these two young men, but these new laws can prevent a similar tragedy for other families," co-sponsor Republican Sen. Phil Pavlov of St. Clair Township said.

Snyder signed the legislation in a private ceremony attended by the Ward and Raymo families.

Lawmakers earlier this year removed a provision from the legislation proposing a roadside saliva test for controlled substances after concerns were raised about accuracy. Critics said it could have led to arrests of medical marijuana patients with traces in their bodies but who were not feeling the drug's effect at the time of a traffic stop.

Also Tuesday, Snyder signed a law requiring that all new drivers be instructed on how to share the roads with motorcyclists and bicyclists. It is named for Nathan Bower, a motorcyclist who died in a 2009 crash in Sanilac County after being struck by the driver of another vehicle.

The bill was sponsored by Democratic Rep. Terry Brown of Pigeon.


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