Kline Legal Group P.L.C.

February 2013 Archives

Dangerous Stretch of I-94, East of Jackson

For years, travelers and others along I-94 in southeastern Michigan have been pushing for construction on the freeway around the intersection of I-94 and Kalmbach road. Going east from Jackson, the freeway makes a hard right, only to immediately turn back. Ideally, it would be straightened out such that the dangerous curve, past Kalmbach road east of Jackson, would be eliminated. An investigation began in 2004 which concluded that this stretch had the second-highest number of auto accidents in Washtenaw County from 2005-2007. In an article on Mlive.com, 48,5000 cars traveled per day on this section of I-94 near Kalmbach road during the study period. According to the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study, in 2007 there were 87 crashes, in 2006, 57 wrecks, and in 2005, 68. The state hesitates to fix this section of road because it has limited money to undertake such projects. If there is no identified money that can be used to fix a problem like this, then the state will not initiate a study to determine what needs to be done to realign the section of freeway. If there are no future plans to change this stretch of highway then travelers should use caution and slow down when driving around I-94 east of Jackson, because statistically, this section in southeastern Michigan is one of the most accident-prone.

Reconsidering the Legal Driving Level of Blood Alcohol Content

A law is currently being considered in the Michigan House of Representatives that would keep the blood alcohol content level at .08 instead of raising it to .1. In 2003, a law was passed which decreased the legal driving level of blood alcohol content (BAC) to .08, but that is set to expired on October 1st, 2013. The negotiating process started today, February 13th, in the House Criminal Justice Committee. Supporters of the bill, argue that the lower BAC threshold has been an important reason why drinking and driving deaths and injuring auto accidents have significantly decreased in the State of Michigan. Failing to pass the bill would also result in the Michigan Department of Transportation losing an estimated $50 million an article on Mlive stated. Under the 2003 bill, the federal government promised money to states in exchange for their moving the legal limit to .08. Michigan already struggles to repair its roads and highways. However, more important than money are lives saved. Today Mothers Against Dunk Driving and others are advocating for the .08 BAC level to remain where it is. Follow this link to the State of Michigan's webpage which outlines the current substance abuse policy.

New Michigan Law On Driving While Intoxicated on Prescription Drugs

In the flurry of end-of-year activity and the heightened media coverage of the passage of the Right-to-Work Legislation in December 2012, the Michigan Legislature also passed Public Act 543 with the intention to "close the loop" of driving under the influence laws so that substances other than alcohol were also included, such as marijuana. The Law was signed on January 2, 2013 by Governor Synder and becomes effective on March 31, 2013. Although the Legislation may have been well intended, Public Act 543 may need reconsideration and modification to address serious concerns brought up by both the legal and medical professions. Many attorneys are concerned that the Law's definition of "intoxicating substance" is so broad that the general public will be unable to determine what drugs would cause a person to be potentially liable for "driving under the influence" and subject to arrest. According to the Law, "intoxicating substance" refers to any substance or preparation listed as a drug in The Official United States Pharmacopeia, The Official Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States or The Official National Formulary. The Law also defines an intoxicating substance as "a substance, other than food, that is used in a manner or for a purpose for which it was not intended, and that may result in a condition of intoxication."
"The use of specific publications to define a criminal offense creates a serious problem when citizens do not have access to the publications and when the publications change frequently. It leaves the drivers of Michigan in between a rock and a hard spot. Either they spend a significant amount of money each year to have access to the publications or they roll the dice and risk being charged with a criminal offense" says attorney Joshua M. Covert.
Doctors are also concerned that the Law's definition of "intoxicating" substances includes almost all of the medications prescribed for behavioral health patients, high blood pressure medications, antihistamines, decongestants and many other commonly prescribed medications which physicians did not fathom would be included under the Law. For example, people with allergies could potentially be "under the influence" of an" intoxicating substance" if they take a Sudafed to stop their nose from running and then decide to drive. Physician groups are disappointed that neither the Michigan Legislature nor the Governor's Office consulted with medical professional groups to consider the full impact of the Law. Many Physician groups are now contacting theMichigan Department of Community Health to create a response to the legislation because of its perceived disastrous potential impact on the public.
The Full text of the Law can be seen at: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2011-2012/publicact/pdf/2012-PA-0543.pdf
Obviously, this new Law was designed to protect the public from dangerous drivers who make poor choices in regards to the use of intoxicating substances; however, it appears that a better balance can be accomplished by more concise legislative drafting to protect both Michigan drivers from being seriously injured by dangerously intoxicated persons and avoid restricting a large segment of the population from ever driving when taking necessary physician prescribed medications.
Please contact your State Representative or Senator to share your concerns and / or comments regarding Public Act 543.

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