Much of the recently passed legislation in Michigan was quite alarming. I had a hard time keeping up with what was going on and was frequently appalled at the process itself. One bill that slipped under most radars was SB 353, now known as Public Act 543. This is an amendment to an earlier law that had set penalties for drunk driving and driving under the influence of controlled substances.
The concern that it attempts to address is the need for restrictions on driving while intoxicated by inhalants and taking more than the prescribed amounts of medications. Although I applaud this effort, I can only condemn the additional overreach of the law to control most everybody else. When I say most everybody, I am not exaggerating. The new law adds new language to the previous law by adding “Intoxicating substances.” To quote the new law, “Intoxicating substance would mean any substance, other than alcohol or a controlled substance, that is recognized as a drug in the official United States Pharmacopeia, official homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States, or official national Formulary, or any supplement to any of them.”
Well if we can't drive while taking legally prescribed medications from the entire Pharmacopeia, regardless of their effect on driving a motor vehicle, what are we supposed to do?
Not only is it now illegal, but it is a felony under the new law, punishable as if the same as drunk driving. One of the biggest concerns besides personal freedom was regarding those who take medications for mental health. Hasn't this law now become a deterrent for taking prescribed medication? At a time when we are in need of better health services the last thing we need is a deterrent to seeking better health. This legislation is already the law of the land. Warn your friends warn your neighbors. Our only hope now is for enough people to urge their state legislators to amend this section of the new law or for someone to take this up with the courts.
Allan Wachendorfer, BSW Candidate – Eastern Michigan University