The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 28, 2013

Impaired is impaired

— When you’re behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and you’re driving impaired, regardless of what got you that way, police should have the ability to arrest and charge you.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has said he wants West Virginia law amended to grant law enforcement the right to have drivers they suspect to be under the influence of drugs, prescription or illicit, tested.

DUI is just that, driving under the influence, no matter what the buzz comes from.

The way the law is set up now, it’s extremely difficult for police to have drivers screened for drugs in a timely fashion. Waiting on a court order from a judge truly hampers the process.

Tomblin’s recommendations will make it much easier for our cops, although the task will still be an arduous one because it will require blood or urine testing.

Law enforcement authorities across the state, and especially in our region, have really been lowering the boom in recent years on alcohol-impaired drivers. While you can’t place a number on it, lives are surely being saved.

But with the raging drug abuse problems that confront us, it only stands to reason that we give our police officers the latitude to get the drug-impaired drivers off the highways as well — they are equally as dangerous.

This is a safety measure that state lawmakers shouldn’t even have to think twice about voting in favor of.