The state Senate will have the final week of the 60-day legislative session to deal with a bill it took the House of Delegates 50 days to come to agreement on.

The House passed Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s drugged driving bill Wed. The governor first proposed the bill during his State of the State Address in February.

The House Judiciary Committee discussed the bill in subcommittee and full committee for several weeks and finally agreed on what turned out to be the fifth version of the bill.

The bill would allow for police to charge drivers that they believe are impaired by controlled substances. The driver would risk losing their license if they refuse a post-arrest blood test.

Del. John Ellem, R-Wood, was one of the delegates that worked on various versions of the bill during the last few weeks but voted against it Wed.

“This may perhaps be something that is better suited to an interim study,” Ellem said. “It is a very complex issue that has many tangents to it and many things to be looked at.”

The bill says the State Police Crime Lab would determine the legal levels for various drugs. Ellem says he’s afraid increasing blood tests would further overload the crime lab.

“They only have one full-time and one almost full-time person devoted to analyzing this blood they will be getting. And more importantly, they only have one machine that can do it,” Ellem said.

The delegate added the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to rule this summer on a blood test case, which could impact West Virginia.

The bill passed the House 72-26 and was sent to the Senate.

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Comments

  • Jim Ashcraft

    ....WHY?

    • C.Hoffman

      CONTROL. Probable cause exists if the officer "believes" you are a drugged driver. What are the parameters of this belief? What about the chain of custody on the evidence? What happens if samples are contaminated or crossed? Who pays for the obtaining the sample? As WV for Life notes: Who will pay the impound & towing fees. Who will compensate the innocent suspect for the lost wages and other expenses they will incur for an officer's erroneous assumption of your guilt based on his or her belief? Who pays for the lawsuits that come from this infringement? This is a dangerous piece of legislation and I agree with Brian: This needs to scrapped in it's entirety. What are the representatives upto with this liberty theft attempt? Our government is completely and totally out of control.

      • GregG

        I agree with everything you stated, but would like to add this....What if your children are in the car? I bet there'll be a bunch of lawyers jumping for joy if this stupid bill passes.

      • WVIRGINIAN FOR LIFE

        C. Hoffman, you absolutely correct. When will this madness from the capital stop?

  • WVIRGINIAN FOR LIFE

    Again, who is gonna pay for my tow and impound fees when the blood tests prove negative? This needs to be spelled out first and foremost. I'm gonna watch our delegates and senator vote tallies on this one. This is ridiculous.

  • Brian

    The entire idea should be scrapped. This is garbage, because it gives the gov't way too much power. You're basically authorizing police officers to arrest anybody they pull over and demand blood. The officers would never face any scrutiny about the "probable cause" they had to suspect impairment, and the victims would be forced to either give blood or give up their license without due process.

    Now, if the officer would automatically and without due process, lose his badge after three of his suspects prove to be unimpaired, then we can start a conversation.

    • WVIRGINIAN FOR LIFE

      Brian, your comment sounds fair to me.

  • Big John

    Why is so important to pass the Governor's bills. He is no greater person than other citizens in this state and their bills stay in committee and are not given a chance to pass.

  • jethro

    sounds like a lot of variables and will prob be asking the policemen to be diagnosticians. will undoubtedly lead to alot of lab tests which will take forever to get results. this shouldnt pass until the fine print is worked out