THE REVERE ADVOCATE – FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2021 Page 13 Baker refiles legislation to improve roadway safety and combat impaired driving T he Baker-Polito Administration recently refi led legislation to improve safety on the Commonwealth’s roadways and combat drug-impaired driving. This proposal would update road safety laws by implementing uniform standards and promoting proven strategies to reduce motor vehicle crashes, and it implements recommendations made by the Special Commission on Operating Under the Infl uence and Impaired Driving. The refiled legislation – An Act implementing the recommendations of the Special Commission on Operating Under the Infl uence and Impaired Driving, which is known as the “Trooper Thomas Clardy Law” – honors Massachusetts State Trooper Thomas L. Clardy. On March 16, 2016, Clardy was conducting a traffi c stop on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Charlton when his parked cruiser was hit by a speeding motorist who swerved across three lanes of traffi c. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, was detected in the motorist’s blood. This preventable crime resulted in Clardy’s tragic and untimely death at the age of 44. He was an 11-year member of the State Police and a United States Marine Corps veteran. He was survived by his wife and six children. The bill’s refi ling this week coincides with the twoyear mark since the conviction of the driver in the case. “This legislation aims to make the Commonwealth’s roads safer and save lives, and we are grateful to the Clardy family for off ering their family’s name and support for this legislation, which will help us avoid impaired driving incidents in the future,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This bill will provide law enforcement offi cers with more rigorous drug detection training and will strengthen the legal process by authorizing the courts to acknowledge that the active ingredient in marijuana can and does impair motorists. The bill draws on thoughtful recommendations from a broad cross-section of stakeholders, and we look forward to working with our legislative colleagues to pass this bill and make our roads safer.” “Our administration is refiling this legislation as part of our steadfast commitment to safeguarding our roadways and protecting the people of the Commonwealth from preventable crimes,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “With the continued implementation of adult-use marijuana in the Commonwealth, it is vital that we continue to focus on eff orts to both combat drugged driving and raise awareness about the dangers of operating while under the infl uence.” First fi led in 2019, this legislation is based on recommendations issued by a Special Commission on Operating Under the Infl uence and Impaired Driving, which was created as part of the 2017 law legalizing adultuse marijuana, to develop a series of recommendations to mitigate the negative impacts of increased marijuana use in Massachusetts, including the anticipated increase of impaired driving. The Special Commission included a diverse cadre of experts in policing, prosecution, the criminal defense bar, medicine, toxicology and civil liberties. The Special Commission’s report outlined recommendations that require legislative changes and promote consistency with state law on alcohol use and driving. “Our family has been profoundly impacted by the tragic loss of my loving husband. Our children lost their hero, a man who had love for his family and an unquenchable love for life,” said Clardy’s widow, Reisa Clardy. “We wholeheartedly support the implementation of these critical measures to improve public safety in the hope of sparing other families from our sorrow and preventing the heartbreak caused by a driver’s decision to get behind the wheel when under the influence of drugs.” “It’s simple: you can’t drive safely when you are impaired. This legislation will improve community safety and advance good criminal justice policy by ensuring our ability to off er the public the same protections whether a driver is under the infl uence of alcohol or drugs,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Terrence Reidy. “The provisions of this legislation will be important tools to law enforcement offi cers to enhance interdiction of drugged drivers and refl ect a necessary evolution in our criminal laws to recognize and address the signifi cant dangers of drivers who are under the infl uence of narcotics,” said Massachusetts State Police Superintendent Colonel Christopher Mason. “It is imperative that police have the training and tools necessary to effectively combat drugged driving,” said Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, who is president of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs Association. “This legislation will equip law enforcement with drug recognition experts to address the dangers of impaired driving and to improve road safety across Massachusetts.” “Life can change in the blink of an eye and, because of impaired drivers, it often tragically does. To prevent these tragedies, we must do everything we can to keep impaired drivers off the roads,” said Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. “This legislation is a great step to making our roads safer for all our loved ones who use them. It will better address the issue of impairment in the courtroom and, ideally, avert a tragedy before it happens.” “AAA Northeast applauds the Baker-Polito Administration for fi ling this legislation, which would make the roadways of the Commonwealth much safer. Impaired driving accounts for roughly a third of roadway deaths across the county, and the numbers are climbing. We also welcome the opportunity to honor Trooper Thomas Clardy and his family in the naming of this bill,” said AAA Northeast Director of Public and Government Aff airs Mary Maguire. “The work of the Special Commission on Operating Under the Infl uence and Impaired Driving started with the basic premise that you don’t, under any circumstances, drive better when you are impaired,” said Cannabis Control Commission Executive Director Shawn Collins, who is the Chair of the Special Commission. “The Baker-Polito Administration’s legislation seeks safer roadways throughout the Commonwealth by implementing the Special Commission’s fi ndings and empowering the public with expanded resources to prevent the risks of driving under the infl uence of any intoxicating substance.” The Special Commission’s 2019 report contained a series of recommendations, many of them unanimous among the experts and stakeholders, to improve how Massachusetts combats operating under the infl uence. The proposed adjustments encompass the entire process leading up to, during and following a motor vehicle stop for suspected driving under the infl uence. Many of the Special Commission’s 19 recommendations require legislative changes, which are refl ected in the Trooper Thomas Clardy Law. The proposed legislative changes in this refi led bill include: • Adopting implied consent laws to suspend the driver’s licenses of arrested motorists who refuse to cooperate in chemical testing for drugs, as existing law has long required for arrested motorists who refuse breath testing for alcohol • Adopting a statute authorizing courts to take judicial notice that ingesting THC, the active chemical in marijuana, can and does impair motorists • Directing the Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC) to expand the training of drug recognition experts, and allowing them to testify as expert witnesses in civil and criminal cases • Prohibiting drivers from having loose or unsealed packages of marijuana in the driver’s compartment of a vehicle, under the same provision of the motor vehicle code that has long prohibited driving with open containers of alcohol • Recognizing the eff ectiveness of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which has been shown through scientific research to be the single most reliable fi eld sobriety test • Empowering police offi cers to seek electronic search warrants for evidence of chemical intoxication, as is the practice in over 30 other states; any blood draw would have to be authorized by a neutral magistrate after a showing of probable cause, and would be performed by a doctor, nurse or other appropriate medical staff at a health care facility. • Developing educational materials and programming on drug impairment to share with trial court judges Recent data released by the National Highway Traffi c Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that traffic fatalities have reached a 15-year high in the fi rst six months of 2021. More than 20,000 people have died in motor vehicle crashes so far this year. The NHTSA attributes this alarming trend to an increase in risky behavior, including driving under the infl uence of drugs and alcohol. Indeed, NHTSA’s recent review of fi ve trauma centers, including one in Worcester, Mass., found a signifi cant increase in the prevalence of drugs detected in seriously and fatally injured drivers, with 56 percent testing positive for at least one impairing substance, up from 50.8 percent before the public health emergency. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), THC, marijuana’s principal active ingredient, impairs coordination, judgment and balance – the skills every operator needs to drive safely. A February 2020 survey conducted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving found that one in eight adults (12 percent) admitted to driving within two hours of consuming marijuana. Public Safety Alert Stay Connected: Massachusetts Residents Encouraged to Plan Ahead For the Shutdown of 3G Cellular Networks The federal government and cellular providers have announced that older phones and devices will lose call and data functions, including the ability to contact 911 T he Executive Offi ce of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) is supporting eff orts by carriers and the federal government to raise awareness about plans by major cellular providers to phase out 3G coverage beginning in early 2022. EOPSS urges Massachusetts residents and businesses who rely on older technology to plan for the potential loss of cell and data functions, specifi cally 911 service availability. Mobile carriers are retiring 3G technology to add bandwidth for faster and more reliable network services, such as 5G. The decommissioning eff ort is underway, and 3G coverage is already being phased out as the fi nal sunset dates approach. If a mobile phone is more than several years old (e.g., older than an iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S4), the phone may require an upgrade before mobile carriers eliminate 3G technology. For older phones and devices, the loss of 3G coverage will impact call and data service, inCELLULAR | SEE Page 20

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