Law enforcement would be required to test for drug use after a fatal vehicle collision under a newly proposed California bill.
Senate Bill 925, introduced by Sen. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), seeks to address the increased amount of fatally injured drivers who have tested positive for substances in their system following fatal accidents.
“It is becoming increasingly common for drivers involved in fatal collisions to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In 2021, 54.5 [percent] of fatally injured drivers in Orange County had at least one substance in their system,” Bates said in a Feb. 23 statement.
“[E]xisting law only requires law enforcement to test for alcohol. Testing for drugs in fatal collisions allows us to more accurately understand the modern use of prescription and recreational drugs.”
In addition to testing for substances besides alcohol, the bill extends the required testing period from 24 to 48 hours after the incident, meaning if the victim dies more than 48 hours after the incident, the suspect responsible will not be tested.
The bill is sponsored by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Don Barnes said the expanded testing can provide valuable information to lawmakers.
“The increases seen in driving under the influence of drugs is a major public safety concern,” Barnes said in a statement. “Policy makers need reliable data in order to correctly address the problem. Ensuring testing of all fatalities will be an important tool for keeping our roads safe.”
Currently, Orange and San Francisco are the only two counties that screen for drugs in victims of fatal collisions.