CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
A measure aimed at improving drug testing methods has been signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin.
House Bill 1494, by state Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, aims to improve drug testing devices for impaired driving.
Ritze said the provisions entailed in the measure cover screening devices important to the fight against impaired driving.
“When the technology is fully vetted by the board, the drug screening devices will expand law enforcement officers’ abilities to identify and detect drug impaired drivers,” said Ritze, R-Broken Arrow. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released a report indicating drug impaired driving is skyrocketing. We have to protect our citizens and our streets from this concerning rise and this bill aides in that mission.”
Ritze, a physician and surgeon with a Master’s Degree in Forensic Science, said the bill also extends the sunset on the Board of Tests for Alcohol and Drug Influence from July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2022. The board is required to set rules and uniform standards for devices, equipment, procedures and techniques for screening tests.
“It was very important that this state board be extended this session,” said Ritze, chairman of the House Public Health Committee, and ranking member of the Public Safety Committee. “Without amending language to extend this board, it would have sunset this summer and that would have been very bad for the state.
This board has been great for Oklahoma and its mission of ensuring proper screening tests for alcohol and other drugs are administered properly.”
Collection and analysis of a person’s blood, breath, saliva or urine, to be considered valid and admissible in evidence, shall – under the new provisions -- have been performed in compliance with the rules adopted by the Board of Tests for Alcohol and Drug Influence. An individual possessing a valid permit issued by the Board for this purpose or shall have been performed by a laboratory accredited in Toxicology by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board.
Language in H.B. 1494 also added the Dean of the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine to the board. The chair and vice chair of the board shall be up for retention every two years.
“The changes to the board structure are merely to modernize the boards operations,” Ritze said. “It is the only board I know of structured with a permanent chair not subject to election. Likewise, it was important to add a representative from OSU since that school has a forensic science program.”
H.B. 1494 will take effect July 1.