Would Legalized Pot Increase DUIs in California?
With Election Day just a few weeks away, proponents and opponents of California’s Proposition 64 are weighing in on how the legalization of marijuana could impact the incidence of DUI in Los Angeles and other jurisdictions throughout the state.
Proposition 64 would decriminalize the use of marijuana in California by adults 21 years of age or older. The law would allow people to grow up to six marijuana plants in their own homes, as long as the public couldn’t see those plants. The state would reap big financial benefits, collecting a tax on the sale of marijuana (15 percent) and on the cultivation of marijuana flowers ($9.25 per ounce) and marijuana leaves ($2.75 per ounce).
While the added tax revenue would be welcome, law enforcement officials are worried about how greater use of marijuana could affect DUI enforcement activities. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, they fear that it could be tough to get convictions of anyone driving high because of the lack of legal standards for marijuana in the state.
Current California law (Vehicle Code 23152) says only that it’s unlawful for a person under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle; it does not define what level of THC in the bloodstream constitutes DUI. (THC is the active ingredient in marijuana.) Groups such as the California Association of Highway Patrolmen say this lack of standards means that police officers don’t have the tools they need to enforce the law.
But it could be tough to institute such standards. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which has studied the effect that legalizing marijuana had in the state of Washington, found that the legal limit of 5-nanograms of THC per-milliliter that the state uses as its DUI limit is arbitrary and unsupported by science.
As a frequent contributor to respected media, like The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Good Morning America, Los Angeles DUI attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group understands what it takes to build successful defenses in complex DUI cases. Contact him and his team today to schedule a consultation.