Sen. Schmidt, Shannon Kochis, Mary Jo Pomeroy testify in support of Billy’s Law

LANSING, Mich. – State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, Shannon Kochis, and Mary Jo Pomeroy testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday in support of Senate Bill 153, also known as Billy’s Law.

The bill, sponsored by Schmidt, would help close a legal loophole that prevents law enforcement from administering drug tests or from obtaining drug test results conducted on at-fault motorists in traffic accidents that lead to serious injury or death. It would change existing law to imply consent for at-fault drivers to allow a blood or urine test be given, and it would also make urine test results subject to a search warrant in addition to blood tests.

“We’re just trying to honor John and Billy and make something good come out of our grief and frustration,” said Shannon Kochis. “Because of this loophole in the system, justice was not served. This is about ensuring that other families don’t experience the same injustice that we have.”

The women, both of Traverse City, are widows of Billy Kochis and John Pomeroy, who lost their lives in a 2013 traffic accident on U.S. 131 near Grand Rapids. The driver of the vehicle that struck the vehicle of Kochis and Pomeroy was suspected of driving under the influence, but because police officers were unable to perform a blood test without the driver’s consent and because a county magistrate failed to issue a search warrant, no blood test was conducted. However, a urinalysis performed later at a hospital indicated cocaine and opiates were in the driver’s system, but that information was impermissible in legal proceedings.

Absent that crucial information, prosecutors were unable to tie the drugs to the deadly accident. The accused was later sentenced after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges, and is scheduled to be released from jail after serving only nine months.

“This is a tragic case where the system failed and law enforcement were unable to fully do their jobs because of a legal loophole,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “Not only did the family not get the justice they deserved, but a probable drug abuser will be allowed back on the streets with little more than a slap on the wrist, potentially putting more people at risk. Billy’s Law exists to help families get closure, in as much as that is possible, while getting drug abusers who are guilty of badly injuring or killing others out from behind the wheel and behind bars.”

Schmidt said he is hopeful SB 153 will be approved by the Judiciary Committee soon.

For more information on Billy’s Law, visit facebook.com/billykochislaw.

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