Chief Thomas Weitzel, who serves as chairman of the Illinois Impaired Driving Task Force, testified Monday, March 19, in Springfield and was the first speaker to address the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), executive team on Illinois' impaired driving assessment program.
The NHTSA team of experts was chosen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and has a long established format developed by NHTSA allowing an in‑depth look into many types of impaired driving countermeasures utilized in the United States.
The process involves a team of experts interviewing subject matter experts in the various traditional focus areas encompassing an impaired driving program, i.e., law enforcement, communications, prevention, criminal justice just to mention a few. At the end of this week a full report containing recommendations will be made to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).
Chief Weitzel focused on impaired driving efforts in Illinois including drunk driving, drugged driving, and the significant increase in drugged driving with the passage of the medical marijuana statute and the looming passage of the recreational cannabis in Illinois. Weitzel further testified that Illinois needs an increase in funding for drug recognition experts (DRE) and that the Illinois Basic Recruit Academy should have designated training hours on impaired driving, with a focus on drugged driving.
Chief Weitzel stated that with the lax attitude toward cannabis in our nation, now in Illinois, it is imperative that the federal government fund roadside field sobriety testing instruments for law enforcement that measure the amount of illegal drugs in the system of an offender similar to a portable Breathalyzer. Currently no such device exists and Weitzel told the panel he would like to see federal dollars designated to the development and implementation of such a device.