Proposed legislation has been introduced in the California Assembly that seeks to make any detectable level of marijuana in a person’s system sufficient to support a DUI drug charge. The troublesome proposal would seem to lower the burden of proof the state would need in cases involving allegations of marijuana.
The measure would essentially override the general idea of impairment in a DUI case, and create a new presumption of impairment based solely on any detectable level of marijuana compounds in blood or urine. Medical marijuana advocates, and others with knowledge of toxicology, say that marijuana compounds can remain detectable for days and weeks after a person has used marijuana.
The assemblywoman who has introduced the measure says that she does not intend the law to impact people who lawfully use medical marijuana. But the language, as it stands, would put medical marijuana users at risk of facing a DUI charge for roughly a month after any use of the prescription if the person decides to drive.
The Chino assemblywoman says that she wants to use the proposed measure in order to collect data on whether driving under the influence of marijuana contributes to fatal car accidents. In other words, she wants to subject California drivers who may not even be impaired to DUI drug charges as a research project.
California DUI laws currently makes drugged driving a crime, if the state can prove that the controlled substance demonstrably impaired the motorist’s ability to drive. The current proposal would essentially eliminate any proof of impairment in respect to marijuana. The assemblywoman offering the proposal admits that the language of the proposed measure “is not perfect,” but has introduced the bill nonetheless.
The director of NORML in California told the Daily Bulletin that what the proposal actually does is criminalize legal behavior. To point out how the measure would work, he says that, “If you made an alcohol analogy for this bill, it would be searching for people’s garbage and finding an empty beer bottle and automatically assuming they were DUI. We’ll just assume you’re driving under the influence.”
Source: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, “Marijuana advocates oppose DUI bill,” Neil Nisperos, March 22, 2012