The study must be completed by the end of this year, and training must be done by the end of 2014, Weikle said. The Legislature would then use the study to try and put those impairment levels into law, he said. Until then, anyone deemed to be under the influence of drugs while driving could be arrested and dealt with by a judge on a case-by-case basis.
Delegates Justin Marcum, D-Mingo, and J.B. McCuskey, R-Kanawha, spoke in favor of the bill. Both are attorneys, and both said they thought the measure would create safer driving conditions in the state as officials address drug abuse issues.
Delegate Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, spoke against the measure. Also an attorney, he said the bill is too ambiguous when it comes to allowing an officer to decide if someone is intoxicated.
"I think we as a committee need to know what the science indicates for the levels of drugs in the blood. I think it's our responsibility for us to know that," Skinner said.
Those and other concerns forced the creation of a subcommittee to re-hash the bill. It presented the version of the measure that came before the committee Tuesday.
"They put a lot of work into making sure they got it right," Weikle said. "Into alleviating the concerns that were brought up, and some of the misconceptions at the beginning, about whether this was a consensual or nonconsensual taking of the blood."
The newest version passed on a voice vote that was not unanimous, with a recommendation it go to the House Finance Committee.
The measure must be approved by that committee by Friday for it to have any chance of becoming law. Weikle thinks the changes make the bill stronger and is confident it has the support necessary to pass the full House.
In 2011 and 2012, 91 people died in West Virginia due to alcohol-only related automobile accidents, according to data the state police provided the governor's office. During the same time span 46 people died as a result of drug-only related automobile accidents, according to the same data.