I was reading the article below written by a politician from the central valley. I agree that there has to be more training in regards to Drug DUIs. However, I disagree with him making marijuana DUIs look like some sinister monster waiting to explode. In my time as a prosecutor, I have seen more DUIs come from prescription drugs rather than marijuana. However, his article is silent as to DUIs from prescription drugs, which is used a lot more than marijiuana. It is legal to drive (but not recommended) on prescription drugs as long as someone is not impaired. They key in these cases is to be within “therapeutic levels”.
Marijuana DUIs with a “breathlyzer”? Marijuana can be eaten and heavens knows there is drinks and items now that marijuana is blended with to mask marijuana breath and smell.
It is one thing to bring forth issues about any kind of impaired driving. It is another to make Marijuana DUIs sound like one of the plagues of Egypt.
Next year, a ballot initiative will allow Californians to decide on legalizing recreational marijuana. While I am strongly opposed, there is a very real possibility that voters will approve the measure and follow what four other states have already done. State lawmakers must be prepared if this becomes the law of the land.
If California’s experience legalizing recreational marijuana will be anything like Colorado’s, we will have a very serious drug-impaired driving problem on our hands that inevitably will increase the number of fatal traffic accidents.
This month, the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA) released a report detailing the impact of legalizing recreational marijuana in Colorado and the roadway impacts were troubling. According to the study, the number of crash deaths related to marijuana increased by one-third in 2014 – the first year after legalization. It also found that approximately one in five of all motor vehicle crash-related deaths last year were marijuana-related – increasing from about one in 10 in 2009.
This year, I was part of crafting bipartisan legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. It brings clear rules and regulations to medical marijuana, which has been allowed since 1996, but completely unregulated. Part of this new law includes a provision that will be an important step toward combating the problem of drugged driving.
A study will be conducted by UC San Diego to determine the nexus between marijuana consumption and driving skills. Armed with this research, we can use it to design scientifically validated field sobriety tests for marijuana and other tools to make people think twice about driving wheel stoned.
There are many parallels between drugged driving today and drunken driving in the 1980s. When I first became a CHP officer, drunken driving was not as strong of a priority for law enforcement and was even culturally acceptable. It took tragedy after tragedy to galvanize the government to make a concerted effort to crack down on drunken drivers and educate the public of its dangers. The result has been a decline in drunken driving, yet inversely the prevalence of drugged driving continues to grow.
California must start taking drug-impaired driving as seriously as drunken driving, particularly if voters decide to legalize marijuana. Other states like Colorado were caught flat-footed on roadway safety as recent statistics show an alarming increase in marijuana-related fatalities. It’s time for California to become a national leader like we were on fighting drunken driving two decades ago. Better law-enforcement tools have made a real difference on reducing alcohol-related traffic deaths. We can do the same for marijuana and other drugs.
While additional research is a critical first step taken this year, we must begin to give officers new tools and enhanced training. Drug “breathalyzers” present an opportunity to overcome some of the current limitations to detecting stoned drivers on the road. A recent pilot program in Los Angeles using these devices has shown promising results. A problem with prosecuting drug DUI cases is that substances like marijuana can come up positive in blood tests weeks later. However, drug breathalyzers test for recent use exclusively. This tool, combined with drug-specific field sobriety tests demonstrating the person’s ability to drive is impaired, will allow officers to get the dangerous drivers off the road.
The legalization of marijuana in 2016 is a potential reality. State officials must be prepared because it would be irresponsible for us to ignore the roadway threat it presents. California took its first step to prepare with the new medical marijuana laws passed this year, but clearly there is a lot more work to be done.
If you or someone you love is charged with a DUI or other crime you need to call our office now at (858) 751-4384 for a free consultation.
23152. (a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle. (b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle. For purposes of this article and Section 34501.16, percent, by weight, of alcohol in a person’s blood is based upon grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving. (c) It is unlawful for a person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle. This subdivision shall not apply to a person who is participating in a narcotic treatment program approved pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 11875) of Chapter 1 of Part 3 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code. (d) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in Section 15210. In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving. (e) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle. (f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle. (g) This section shall become operative on January 1, 2014.
The full article can be found here.