Senate passes Billy’s Law

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LANSING, Mich. — The Senate on Thursday approved Billy’s Law to empower law enforcement to administer drug tests and obtain drug test results conducted on at-fault motorists in traffic accidents that lead to serious injury or death.

“This bill strikes an important balance between the need to preserve constitutional rights with our efforts to allow scientific evidence to be used in the investigation of the most serious traffic accidents,” said John Collins, former director of forensic science for the Michigan State Police, and cousin of the bill’s namesake, Billy Kochis.

Senate Bill 153 changes existing law to imply consent for at-fault drivers to allow a blood or urine test be given, and would also make urine test results subject to a search warrant in addition to blood tests.

“Billy’s Law closes a loophole that has delayed or denied justice from crime victims and their families,” said Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, the bill sponsor.

Billy’s Law stems from a 2013 case when Traverse City residents Kochis and John Pomeroy died from injuries suffered in a traffic accident on U.S. 131 near Grand Rapids. The driver of the vehicle that struck the vehicle of Kochis and Pomeroy was suspected of driving under the influence, but because police officers were unable to perform a blood test without the driver’s consent and because a county magistrate failed to issue a search warrant, no blood test was conducted. However, a urinalysis performed later at a hospital indicated cocaine and opiates were in the driver’s system, but that information was impermissible in legal proceedings.

As such, prosecutors were unable to tie the drugs to the deadly accident. The accused was later sentenced after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges and was released from jail after serving only nine months.

“While Billy’s Law may not be able to deliver justice for families who have already been affected by this loophole, enacting it can ensure future criminals receive punishments that fit their crimes and help keep drugged drivers off Michigan roads,” said Schmidt.

SB 153 now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

For more information on Billy’s Law, visit facebook.com/billykochislaw.

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