Topeka — Concerns about constitutional rights were raised Wednesday over a bill that would require drug testing of people involved in serious traffic accidents.
The measure, House Bill 2617, was written in response to a Feb. 14, 2007, wreck in Basehor that killed 19-year-old Tonganoxie native Amanda Bixby.
The driver who caused that wreck, Ricardo Flores, wasn't tested for drugs. He later was fined and placed on six months' probation after pleading no contest to failure to yield at a stop sign.
Amanda's parents, Tonganoxie residents Dennis and Denise Bixby, have lobbied for the proposed law, which would require law officers to order drug tests at accidents involving fatalities or serious injury. Currently, officers must have a reasonable suspicion that drugs played a part in an accident before they can order a person to undergo a drug test.
What has been called "Amanda's Law" sailed out of the House last month on a 117-5 vote.
But it hit a roadblock Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
State Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, said he didn't like the idea of his grandmother having to submit to a blood test if she was involved in a wreck. "They're going to have to hold her down and take her blood sample?" he asked.
Under the bill, people could refuse to submit to a drug test, but they could lose their driver's licenses.
But Dennis Bixby, Amanda's father, argued it would be better to collect as much evidence as possible after the wreck, and then let a judge later decide whether that evidence was admissible in court.
Ed Klump, representing the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police, said it would be easier to require blood tests of everyone involved rather than force an officer to decide who was at fault because sometimes crash scenes are chaotic.
But Committee Chairman Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, referred to two complex flow charts Klump provided that were designed to show the difference between current law and how the system would operate under the proposed measure.
Officers will "need a flow chart to figure out what they can do," Vratil said.
Vratil assigned the bill to a subcommittee to continue working on it.