LAYTON -- When Layton police pulled over a motorist recently for driving impaired in a vehicle with a busted tail light, they found a driver with slurred speech and dilated pupils who failed several field sobriety tests.
But despite the driver's inability to "keep a line" to demonstrate his sobriety, there was no routine blood test available to law enforcement to detect whether the driver was under the influence of the chemical compound commonly known as spice, because there is no ordinance specifically regulating the substance, said city legal staff.
On Thursday, the Layton City Council unanimously approved -- effective immediately -- an amendment to its city code prohibiting the possession, use, sale and marketing of any intoxicating or impairing chemical compound.
"What we are trying to get at is the spice issue," City Manager Alex Jensen told the council.
"For example, an officer may arrest a user for driving under the influence of these substances, having observed the impairment," City Attorney Gary Crane said in a narrative to the council.
"The officer's testimony, however, would not be supported by the result of a blood or urine test, as it would contain no evidence of the ingestion of any drug. Thus, those that choose to do so feel they could drive impaired with impunity," Crane said.
To address the problem, rather than reinvent the wheel, Crane, along with Assistant City Attorney Steve Garside, borrowed earlier ordinance work done by Ogden and Roy, as well as regulations from European cities, to draft an amendment allowing the city to regulate the possession, use, sale and advertising of chemical compounds that are generally considered "synthetic cannabinoids."
If police have probable cause to believe an individual has ingested such a substance, they can now request a warrant for a blood test, Garside said.
Those substances would include Spice, Spice Gold, Spice Diamond, Spice Silver, Spice Arctic Energy, K-Z, Black Mamba, Puff and Sugar Sticks.
Those vendors in the city selling any of those products will be notified to come into compliance, Garside said.
The regulations adopted by the council also put people on notice that law enforcement knows the substances are bad for individuals, Garside said, not including the public health concerns raised as a result of putting the substances into your body.
The Davis County Health Department and state Legislature are expected to adapt regulations prohibiting these chemical compounds, but based on what police are already encountering, the city's legal counsel wanted to move forward immediately with its own ordinance, Crane said.