Zero-tolerance ‘drugged driving’ bill unreasonable
March 1, 2013
I am dismayed that Sheriff Royal, in his capacity as CSSA president, has sponsored SB 289. This bill, like many failed bills before it, attempts to establish a zero tolerance policy for "drugged driving." This bill would make it illegal to drive a vehicle long after any impairment has disappeared — it establishes an unreasonable standard for presumed intoxication. A driver could pass all field sobriety tests with flying colors and still be convicted of a DUI offense.
While I agree that we don't want drunk or stoned drivers on our roadways, any solution to the problem should be based in science and actual impairment, not micro-trace elements remaining in the blood. With advances in technology, it will at some point be possible to detect trace amounts of THC from days, possibly weeks prior — even when the driver is clearly sober and fully capable of driving safely.
According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, THC blood levels are poor indicators of cannabis-induced impairment.
"It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person's THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. … It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone." — from the NHTSA website.
Sure, we’d all be safer if we lived in a police state, but that doesn’t mean we should.
Sheriff Royal states his purpose: "Establishing a zero-tolerance approach enables law enforcement to more effectively address driving while under the influence of drugs."
If it is such a good idea then why don't we hold alcohol users to the same standard so that law enforcement can more effectively address driving while under the influence of alcohol? Any detectable amount of alcohol would constitute a DUI. Sure, we'd all be safer if we lived in a police state, but that doesn't mean we should. I understand and support the need to help law enforcement do their job, but this approach isn't the answer.
The more effective approach, as suggested by the NHTSA and others, is to establish an upper limit on substance levels in the blood (as we currently do for alcohol) in combination with simple, objective and scientifically proven mental and physical tests to determine actual impairment and whether or not a person can drive safely.
Please contact your representatives today to ensure they do not support SB 289. Thank you.
Alan Moore lives in Grass Valley.
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