Michelle Logemann and her husband, Bill, told Wisconsin legislators time after time how their baby son Luke died when a man ingested cocaine, came to Milwaukee looking for a prostitute and ran a red light, plowing his minivan into Michelle’s car. Their efforts have been rewarded: the “Baby Luke Bill” now is in effect, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
The law that prohibits motorists from driving if they have any detectable amount of illegal drugs in their system. The penalties for drugged driving as severe as those for drunken driving. The Logemanns, of Waukesha, began pushing for the law after realizing that the criminal justice system was limited in what it could do to a driver who was responsible for killing Luke two years ago.
The driver who hit Michelle Logemann was under the influence of cocaine at the time, but toxicologists were unable to state with scientific certainty whether he was legally impaired. “Everybody believed the cocaine played a role in it,” said Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann. “But the prosecution was incapable of showing that the cocaine was the agent that caused the crash.” The driver pleaded guilty to homicide by negligent use of a vehicle; he was sentenced to 44 months in prison followed by 36 months of community supervision.
State Rep. Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin) said the Logemanns had pointed out a glaring oversight in the law. “It didn’t make sense that someone driving with an illegal drug in their system could not be punished for that,” Gundrum said. “If it’s illegal to simply possess these drugs, then it makes sense that you should not have them in your system when you’re driving.”
The problem in fashioning a drugged driving law was in establishing impairment. “Because alcohol is a legal product, there has been a lot of research on its effects,” Gundrum said. “We can’t do that with cocaine. The new drugged driving law does not establish an impairment level. It simply says it’s illegal for drivers to have any level of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and recently ingested marijuana in their systems.