BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – (5/30/19) A proposed law allowing for drug testing in traffic accidents that result in serious injury is headed back to the Louisiana Senate for a final vote.
Sponsored by Sen. Ryan Gatti, R-Bossier City, HB 138 would allow officers to determine whether a driver should be tested for drugs in crashes that involve serious bodily injury. Current Louisiana law allows for post-accident drug testing only when a collision results in an on-site fatality.
SB 138, also known as “Katie Bug’s Law,” is named in memory of a 4-year-old girl who was critically injured in a crash at a Bossier Parish intersection in November 2017 when 48-year-old Shane Christopher DeMoss ran a red light and struck the vehicle she was riding in. Katie Grantham was thrown from her booster seat and suffered severe spinal cord injuries.
Katie was taken off life support after seven days in the hospital. Because she later died in the hospital and not at the scene, DeMoss was not drug tested. He passed a field sobriety test, but when authorities later searched his truck, they say they found meth, pills, and alcohol.
Without more evidence of impairment, such as a drug test, prosecutors could only charge him with a traffic violation, instead of negligent or vehicular homicide. He ultimately served 10 days in jail.
Katie’s mother, Morgan White Grantham, has played an active role in shaping the legislation, saying on the Team Katie Bug Facebook Page, “‘She wasn’t dead yet’ should never again be a reason to not administer a blood test.”
“Katie Bug’s Law” was approved unanimously by House lawmakers on Thursday in a vote of 100-0 after some tweaks were made to the legislation, including the addition of an amendment protecting law enforcement from liability “for any action or omission taken in response” to the revised law. It will now be sent back to the Senate for debate and a final vote.