Current state law falls short in trying to prosecute someone who is under the influence of an inhalant while driving, according to sponsors of a bill that would change the law’s definition of an intoxicant.
During a public hearing on the bill, the case of an Appleton woman accused of huffing and driving was cited numerous times. Following a crash in 2011, Marilyn Torbeck was cited for a third offense — operating while intoxicated. However, a circuit court dropped the charges as the chemical in her system “1, 1-Difluoroethane”, found in spray cans, is not covered under state OWI law. An appeals court upheld the ruling.
State Rep. Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay) says the bi-partisan bill would include all inhaled substances as an intoxicant under OWI laws, adding to the statute’s existing coverage of alcohol and nitrous oxide. Bies says the measure will give law enforcement the “tools they need” when dealing with those who huff and drive.
The bill was heard by the Senate Transportation, Public Safety, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee.