Bonita Springs City Council members may be asked to blow into a Breathalyzer or give a hair sample to determine if they are under influence of alcohol or drugs before a council meeting.

Deputy Mayor Steve McIntosh will ask his fellow council members Wednesday to adopt a drug-free policy in their code of conduct.

"I don't think there's any problems on council. That's not my point. I just want to make sure that we do have in our standards the kinds of things that I think are important to the public," he said.

"What I tried to do was insert in the code of conduct enough language to at least make the people, the citizens comfortable that people on City Council were maintaining the ethical standards that they would expect."

Bonita's City Council would likely be the first government entity in Lee and Collier counties to adopt such a policy.

McIntosh said he's making the suggestion in light of substance abuse issues of other elected officials from the area. "I think it is important that (people) realize that we're going to live up to higher standards," he said.

U.S. Rep. Trey Radel resigned in January after his arrest and guilty plea for cocaine possession and a stint in rehabilitation.

Leading up to the June 24 special election to fill the vacated seat, Democratic candidate April Freeman challenged Republican candidate Curt Clawson to take a drug test; he accepted.

State Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, was arrested last month on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Eagle had filed a bill that would require elected officials to be drug tested, but it died in the House because he submitted it after the Senate deadline.

The Lee and Collier commissions, and the Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Sanibel, and Naples city councils do not have existing or proposed drug-free policies for their elected officials.

"We have rules of civility that are posted on every council agenda," Sanibel Manager Judie Zimomra said. "Our rules of civility speak to behavior during meetings and workshops."

Area municipalities have drug-free policies for employees.


Cape Coral Councilman Jim Burch wouldn't mind being submitted to a drug test but feels like it'd be best to pass on policy like that, especially if it is voluntary. It lacks consistency.

"If there's reasonable suspicion, you can do that," Burch said. "As a businessperson we do the same; it's fair game for new hires."

There are random drug tests for city employees depending on their category, according to Connie Barron, spokeswoman for Cape Coral. She said they also request a drug test if they have a reason to believe it's necessary.

Bonita council members also would be subject to drug tests if there's reasonable cause to believe they are impaired during a meeting.

But if there's no reasonable cause, the tests would have to be voluntary. "Legally you can't make it mandatory," McIntosh said.

He said the tests could be done periodically before council meetings in an unobtrusive way, by Breathalyzer or hair samples instead of blood or urine. The policy would not require total abstinence, just during council meetings where elected officials are making decisions.

McIntosh also suggests the policy include preventative measures and adequate resources to make sound decisions such as training about substance abuse to educate elected officials about addiction and recovery from chemical dependency.

Florida law lists drunkenness as a reason residents may recall elected officials.

Connect with this reporter on Twitter @ChristinaCepero.

Staff writer Cristela Guerra contributed to this report.

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