Archive for Friday, February 1, 2008

Panel says more work needed on proposed ‘Amanda’s Law’

Denise and Dennis Bixby, Tonganoxie, are pushing for changes in the state's vehicular homicide law. Their daughter, Amanda, was killed in a wreck on Feb. 14, 2007.

Denise and Dennis Bixby, Tonganoxie, are pushing for changes in the state's vehicular homicide law. Their daughter, Amanda, was killed in a wreck on Feb. 14, 2007.

February 1, 2008

A House committee on Thursday postponed voting on a bill that would require drug testing at major traffic accidents.

Several committee members said more work was needed on the proposal.

Under House Bill 2617, people involved in accidents that resulted in serious injuries or fatalities would have to submit to drug tests.

Currently, such a test, frequently a blood sample, can be ordered only if there is reasonable suspicion of drug use.

The new proposal was prompted by the death of Amanda Bixby, 19, who was killed in a wreck last year. Her parents, Dennis and Denise Bixby, of Tonganoxie, said the person who struck Amanda should have been tested for drugs.

But on Thursday, several committee members said they were concerned that under the proposed bill, blood could be drawn from people even though they were not at fault and under no suspicion.

State Rep. Marti Crow, D-Leavenworth, gave several examples that she knew about.

In one, a person wrecked a car while trying to avoid a tire that fell from the back of a truck. The car driver's legs had to be amputated, to remove the person from the wreckage.

"You want to test them for drugs?" Crow asked.

The bill also would require that passengers be drug tested. State Rep. Thomas "Tim" Owens, R-Overland Park, said, "I think that goes a little bit too far."

Hospital officials also said there needed to be legal and safety protections for workers who would have to draw blood.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, said he wanted interested parties to work together and come up with a proposal soon.

He didn't set a deadline but said: "I do want to work the bill. I just think it's important that we get it right."

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