Pubdate: Mon, 26 Apr 2004
Source: Cincinnati Post (OH)
Copyright: 2004 The Cincinnati Post
Author: Rob Portinan, Member, U.S. House
Alert: Please Tell Congress To Identify Impaired Drivers


While I appreciate The Cincinnati Post's attention to the problem of
drug impaired driving, I would like to clarify a few issues raised in
the recent editorial about the legislation I introduced, H.R. 4159,
the Drug Impaired Driving Research and Prevention Act of 2004.

This bill passed the House in early April as part of the Highway
Bill, because Congress recognizes drug impaired driving is a growing
problem that should be addressed.

The overriding purpose of this legislation is public safety, not to
increase incarceration for drug abusers. My bill will raise awareness
about drug impaired driving and improve testing research and
prevention. It also provides a model law to help states address drug
impaired driving offenses, which are difficult to prosecute.

The editorial claimed that the bill targets those with trace amounts
of illegal drugs in their system. This is simply not the ease. The
real purpose is simple, to help law enforcement prose-cute drivers who
are impaired because of their use of illegal drugs. To do this, the
bill will advance the science needed to test for drug impairment.

The goal for testing is to identify drivers who have evidence of
illegal drugs in their system consistent with impair-ment. Once that
is established, the per se laws can help to prosecute these drivers
who put our families and children at risk on our roads.

I also noted The Post's concerns about cost to the states. As an
author of the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act, I take very seriously
unfunded mandates that burden our states and local governments. But I
do not believe we can ignore this issue because of a fear of
increasing our drug treatment services.

Identifying those who need education and treatment and providing them
help is a proactive solution and will lead to lives saved. For
example, in Hamilton County, first-time DUI offenders are sentenced to
a three-day intervention pro-gram operated by Talbert House not jail.

While I appreciate your concerns over unfunded mandates, Hamilton
County's intervention program is funded completely through driver fees.

Too many Americans have been killed or injured by drug impaired
drivers. Drugged driving puts innocent lives in harm's way and
unequivocally contradicts the notion that drug use is a victimless

Rob Portinan (R)

Member, U.S. House

2nd District of Ohio 
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