House panel advances Senate-passed bill to require drug testing after serious traffic accidents

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Lawmakers discuss several bills on drug testing after serious traffic accidents and fine exemptions for uninsured drivers during the House Transportation Committee on Monday, May 20, 2019. (Photo credit: Hunter Lovell, LSU Manship School News Service)

By: Lauren Heffker & Tryfon Boukouvidis, LSU Manship School News Service

Published: May 16, 2019

BATON ROUGE–The Louisiana House Transportation Committee advanced two bills on Monday that would permit drug testing in severe traffic accidents and waive penalties for uninsured drivers under special circumstances.

Sen. Ryan Gatti, R-Bossier City, sponsored Senate Bill 138 that would mandate either chemical, blood or urine testing in a traffic crash involving serious bodily injury or death. Gatti’s bill defines serious bodily injury as one that is “severe” or “incapacitating.”

Louisiana’s current law allows for post-accident drug testing only when a collision results in an on-site fatality. The proposed bill, however, would expand the existing law.

If the bill were to become law, it would be known as “Katie Bug’s Law,” named after 4-year-old Katie Grantham of Bossier Parish, who was killed in an auto accident in 2017. Though Katie’s mother, Morgan Grantham, suspected the driver who hit them was impaired by drugs, he was not tested by police since Katie did not die at the scene.

Katie suffered critical injuries to her spinal cord and was taken off life support after seven days in the hospital. The driver, who ran a red light north of Bossier City, served 10 days in prison. Without more sufficient evidence, such as a drug test, prosecutors could only charge him with a traffic violation, instead of negligent or vehicular homicide.

Read more in The Advocate.

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