Marijuana: Would THC driving bill help people busted for alcohol DUIs beat the rap?
In any prosecution for the offense of DUI per se, the defendant shall be entitled to offer direct and circumstantial evidence to show that there is a disparity between what ANY tests show and other facts so that the trier of fact could infer that the tests were in some way defective or inaccurate. Such evidence may include testimony of nonexpert witnesses relating to the absence of any or all of the common symptoms or signs of intoxication for the purpose of impeachment of the accuracy of the analysis of the person's blood or breath.Attorney Leonard Frieling, an expert on marijuana law (and a critic of the five nanogram driving standard), says a "nonexpert witness" might be someone who could testify that, for instance, he or she was with the defendant prior to the accident and saw no sign of intoxication or impairment.
Frieling admits to surprise that the change in the alcohol DUI regulations hasn't gotten more attention in the back-and-forths about the bill. But does he think a lot of drunk drivers will suddenly be off the hook in vehicular homicide cases as a result of the change? No.
"The per se laws aren't something DA's tend to use much," he says. "And I don't think they use it because they don't need it. The science on alcohol is much better than it is on cannabis, because alcohol is water soluble and cannabis is fat soluble. So the correlation between the impairment measure with alcohol is very good. If there's .08 blood alcohol content, you're getting a real sense about what's happening in the rest of the body. That's just not the case with THC."
At the same time, Frieling says he's heard no debate about changing alcohol DUIs from per se to permissible inference "in a really, really long time -- maybe never."
Making such a change in a law that's been widely accepted and non-controversial for years is an indication of how badly some legislators want a THC driving standard to pass this time around, whether or not the numbers make sense.
Here's the text of HB 13-1114, followed by the aforementioned Rob Corry letter.
More from our Marijuana archive: "THC driving bill, take three: Read draft language of proposed 2013 legislation."