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.