[r63] Messmer Report: Public safety issues addressed by the legislature

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, March 30, 2012

Every year the General Assembly works to address issues to improve public safety and to crack down on crime in Indiana. This year was no exception and we passed multiple pieces of legislation that will help to protect all Hoosiers from harmful substances and actions.

There are many Hoosiers that enjoy being able to drive their golf carts around their communities or use them in order to assist in their businesses. In the past, counties have not had the same authority to permit golf carts on their roads like cities and towns have. But this year the General Assembly was able to grant them that authority and also revised a few of the rules.

The legislation requires that a valid driver’s license will now be necessary to drive a golf cart on county roads and also a limits the number of passengers that will be allowed. It also specifies that the county must allow the use of golf carts on a roadway from sunset to sunrise if the golf carts have working headlights and taillights in use.  This will help to keep Hoosiers safer in all vehicles across the state.

It was brought to our attention this year that Indiana’s, and many other states’, public intoxication laws are very inconsistent which can discourage people from drinking responsibly. There have been cases in Indiana where a person had been drinking, found a sober driver and then, after being pulled over by the police, find that the sober driver had an invalid license. The intoxicated person would then be arrested when they were unable to drive. We don’t want to discourage Hoosiers who have been drinking from finding a sober ride home.

This session we updated the law so that Indiana is now in line with 25 other states’ laws. The legislation reinforces and encourages the idea that drinking and driving will come with consequences but that those that make responsible decisions will not be punished for it.

In a somewhat similar bill, this session we addressed the issue of operating a motor boat while intoxicated. There were inconsistencies with the laws in the state that put Hoosiers at risk while out on their boats. We felt that if a person is under the influence while driving a boat, then their penalty should be same as if they were driving a car under the influence. I am pleased we were able to address this issue and believe that it will help to make sure that our waterways are safer. 

Finally, this session we banned dangerous synthetic drugs that are designed to mimic the effects of marijuana and cocaine. The same legislation also states that retailers that sell synthetic marijuana or cocaine, such as ‘Spice’, ‘K2’ or ‘Bath Salts’,  will be stripped of their retail merchant certificate of business. This would shut their business down for one year.

This legislation added more than 60 chemical compounds found in synthetic drugs to the state’s list of illegal substances. Also, in an effort to prevent illegal drug manufacturers from slightly changing ingredients and skirting laws in the future, the law also bans compounds chemically derived from existing illegal drugs.

Children were purchasing these products legally and this sometimes resulted in tragic deaths or in them being sent to an emergency room. I’m very pleased we are able to have these products removed from store shelves and that we can protect our children.

By updating our laws and staying a step ahead of criminals we can ensure that all Hoosiers have the chance for a happier and healthier life.