Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Time to Fight a New 'Sober DUI' Bill

By David Downs
Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Californians are going to have to fight every year to prevent new laws criminalizing driving while sober, apparently.

Last year, sober drivers defeated the Rep. Norma Torres' sober driving bill, which would have criminalized driving with any amount of cannabinoids in your system — despite the facts that driving while stoned is already illegal, and cannabis can stay in the body for weeks, long after the high's worn off. This year, California's sober DUI hawk is noted drug warrior and California State Senator Lou Correa.

Correa's Senate Bill 289, introduced Friday, would make it a crime for sober drivers to have any detectable levels of any drug in their system, unless they had a prescription for it.

If you drink a little cough syrup or take one of your wife's muscle relaxers, then drive to work the next day, you could go to prison. Trace amounts of drugs linger in citizens' bodies for weeks, or months in the case of medical cannabis, and they do not equate to driving impaired — just ask pretty much everyone on the planet.

Plus, it's already a crime to drive under the influence of anything in California, and traffic fatalities are at their lowest levels since the '40s.

"The bill would effectively outlaw EVERY driver who has within recent hours or days used marijuana, opioids, amphetamines, etc., regardless of whether they are in any way impaired," stated California NORML director Dale Gieringer. "There exists zero scientific evidence for the assumption that low-level traces of [cannabis] are a significant traffic hazard. Sen. Correa has a long record of being law enforcement's go-to legislator for make-crime anti-drug bills in Sacto."

Sen Lou Correa, (center) wants to jail you for driving sober
  • Sen. Correa's office
  • Senator Lou Correa, (center) wants to jail you for driving sober

As the former cops at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition noted last year: "It is absolutely conceivable that, if passed, this bill will 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. 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."

Supporters of the bill include those standing to benefit from a new, unfunded state-mandated local program: the usual suspects at the California Narcotic Officers Association and the California Police Chiefs Association.

Every year, these make-crime lobbyists are going to introduce this bill, and every year activists will have to rise up and defeat it. For evil triumphs only when good people don't call their congressman.

Click here to identify and contact your California representative.

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