Last week this blog discussed a proposed measure in California that purports to create a zero tolerance in driving under the influence cases involving allegations of marijuana use. The measure is drawing strict criticism for its overbearing language.
The measure purports to prohibit driving under the influence of pot, but as critics contend, the measure does not require that a person be under the effects of pot at any time near the alleged offense. Many critics say that it would be like prohibiting a person from driving for as long as a month after drinking a glass of wine with dinner.
Among the recent critics are a group of California criminal justice professionals. A retired deputy chief of police with the Los Angeles Police Department bluntly states that the “bill has no basis in science.”
He says that if the measure were to pass and become law, it “would impede public safety for all Californians by distracting police from catching actually dangerous drivers.” The comments were made surrounding a letter from California police officers, prosecutors and judges that calls for the immediate withdrawal of the proposed bill.
The letter states that, if passed, the bill will conceivably “become the foundation for DUI checkpoint abuses where the answer to the simple question, ‘are you a legal medical cannabis patient?’ will result in arrest and conviction under circumstances where impaired driving never occurred.” Ten retired criminal justice professionals, including former members of law enforcement, prosecutors and judges, signed the letter.
The letter acknowledges that California law currently prohibits driving under the influence of controlled substances upon proof of impairment. The cops, judges and prosecutors essentially say that the overused and clichéd use of the concept zero tolerance is misapplied in the context of how the body metabolizes pot.
The letter says that the bill has significant flaws that allow prosecution for alleged DUI offenses without proving impairment or intoxication. The letter further states that medical marijuana patients may be exposed to significant unfair consequences from the bill.
The professionals say that a medical marijuana patient could be convicted of DUI without ever driving impaired, “And if it happens to the same patient on three occasions, they will face a mandatory ten-year prison sentence, all while still being innocent.”
The letter, dated March 27, was addressed to the Chino assemblywoman who introduced the measure February 24. The measure reportedly has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Public Safety.
Source: Salem News, “Cops And Judges Ask California Legislator to Withdraw Marijuana DUI Bill,” Mar. 27, 2012