[Press Release] SACRAMENTO – Today, the California State Assembly unanimously approved a bill that would have the California Highway Patrol (CHP) lead a statewide task force dedicated to fighting the growing problem of drug-impaired driving. Under the bill authored by Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), CHP would test new technologies and develop best practices for law enforcement officers across the state to identify drug-impaired drivers.
“As someone who spent 28 years with the CHP, I know how dangerous an impaired driver can be,” said Lackey. “To deal with a problem as complex as drugged driving, we need a coordinated response based on strong science and best practices. This CHP-led task force will make sure that happens.”
Proposition 64—which legalized recreational marijuana—included substantial funding for CHP to create drug-impaired driving enforcement programs. This bill would build on that funding and formalize CHP as the lead agency for coordinating California’s approach to drugged driving enforcement. Their mission would also encompass prescription drugs in addition to marijuana and illicit drugs.
“Accurately identifying and prosecuting drugged drivers remains a tremendous challenge for law enforcement,” said Chief Edward Medrano, President of the California Police Chiefs Association. “Utilizing the roadway safety expertise of CHP to develop best practices and test new technology will help California officers deal with the challenge of legal recreational marijuana and rising abuse of prescription drugs.”
The prevalence of drug-impaired driving has been increasing in recent years. According to a 2015 DMV report, the number of fatal crashes involving drugs or the combination of drugs and alcohol for the first time exceeded those involving alcohol only in 2012 and then again in 2013. A 2014 roadside survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of nighttime weekend drivers in California found 20% of drivers with drugs in their system.
The legislation is known as Assembly Bill 6 and will now move on to the State Senate for approval.