Back in June, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law Louisiana Senate Bill 138. Also known as “Katie Bug’s Law,” for the young victim of a car accident, it puts new power in the hands of police and victims when a driver who causes a crash is suspected of being under the influence of drugs.
Unlike suspected drunk drivers, suspected drugged drivers didn’t face mandatory testing when they caused a car wreck unless someone died at the scene. That may have allowed many drugged drivers to escape potentially harsh criminal charges for their actions.
In the case of Katie Grantham, the little girl who is the namesake for the law, police suspected right away that the driver who caused the crash that took her life was drunk or high. He passed a field sobriety test for alcohol intoxication. However, officers found alcohol, meth and a variety of pills in his truck. Since the victim initially survived the accident — lingering on life support for seven days — officers weren’t able to force the driver of the truck to take a drug test.
The new law gives officers broad discretion to administer drug testing after any car accident that causes someone a serious bodily injury. Had the law existed when Katie’s accident occurred, the truck driver might have been charged with vehicular homicide or negligent homicide. Instead, he served just 10 days in jail for running a red light and causing the accident.
The law may also provide extra ammunition for numerous injury victims when they’re in a motor vehicle accident with a drugged driver. If you suffer a serious injury in a crash, the odds of obtaining a favorable settlement from the insurance company may rise if there’s evidence that the other driver was drugged.