Legislators in Michigan are considering the implementation of roadside drug testing after a hearing in front of a judiciary committee took place on October 6. Senate Bill 434 is also known as the Barbara J. and Thomas J. Swift Law is being proposed as a way to prevent accidents that may occur when drivers are functionally impaired after using drugs or alcohol. If passed, the Bill will “authorize the Michigan Department of State Police to establish a one year-pilot program in three counties for roadside drug testing to determine whether an individual was operating a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance.
The Barbara J. and Thomas J. Swift Law will reportedly be in conjunction with Senate Bill 207, which is enables police officers who are certified as a drug recognition experts to issue a warrentless arrest if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a driver is impaired by a controlled substance. This type of test is proving effective in other states as a way to reduce accidents and fatalities on the roads given the prompt results garnered from saliva tests and their ability to test for a variety of substances. The process ultimately hastens the process of standard urine drug tests with instant results and enables authorities to more accurately determine if the driver is within the window of actual impairment per each substance.
Law Inspired By Tragedy
The driver of the truck, Harley Davidson Durocher, was found to be under the influence of marijuana, which is still considered a controlled substance in Michigan, when his large truck slammed in the the couple’s car after he neglected to stop at a red light. Tom was first to succumb to his injuries and Barbara was soon to follow, leaving their two adult children and five grandchildren devastated and determined to spare other families of the pain and loss they were left to cope with.
Durocher was arrested after the accident and went to trial of April of 2014, where a jury determined that he was indeed guilty of the six felonies he was charged with. As a result, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for six simultaneous sentences. The breakdown of his charges and sentencing dictate that he will spend time behind bars for two counts of reckless driving that resulted in death, two counts of driving with a suspended license that resulted in a death and two counts of driving under the presence of a controlled substance that resulted in death. Each charge carried a sentence from 5 to 15 years, which Durocher received the max for.
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Labor of Love
For Brian Swift, Tom and Barbara’s son, the “Swift Check” is also a labor of love and a way to honor the memory of his parent. He said of his family’s way of coping with the death of the couple, “Our pain never goes away, but when we know my parents would want to help others and we think it’s worth the fight.”
He went on to say,
“We have worked hard over the past year to turn the horror of losing our mom and dad into saving others. This bill is about stopping people who get behind the wheel of a vehicle and choose to put other peoples’ lives at risk. Their bill establishes a pilot program that utilizes technology for the 21st century to do drug testing at roadside stops. It would allow saliva testing as a new tool for law enforcement when determining when motorists are driving under the influence of a range of different drugs. Like the breathalyzer – used to detect consumption of alcohol – portable saliva machines screen for marijuana, cocaine, opiates and methamphetamine, alone with some classes of prescription medications.”
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