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California bill would fund a study on drugged driving

Now that it is legal to use marijuana for recreational purposes, some in California are concerned about drugged driving. Unlike drunk driving, where a person can perform a breath test or blood test to determine their blood alcohol content level, when it comes to drugged driving, there are no standard tests for determining if a person is too high to drive. But, one California Assemblyman, Jordan Cunningham, wants to change that.

Under AB-903, a study would be funded by Prop 64 to examine how marijuana affects a person's ability to drive. The goal of the study would be to develop a measurable standard for determining whether a person is too high to drive, just like there is for drunk driving.

Other states have established a per se limit for drugged driving. For example, in one state, if the amount of THC in a person's blood is five or more nano-grams, that person would receive a DUI. However, there is no national standard on drugged driving.

Right now, determining if someone is too high to drive is difficult. Standard roadside tests are not available. Police who pull a driver over on suspicion of drugged driving must subjectively analyze the driver. Red eyes, dilated pupils, slurring one's speech or having a sunken face may indicate the driver is high, at which point police may administer a field sobriety test. Blood tests can determine if THC is in a person's system, but THC can stay in a person's system long after the person is actually high, making such tests unreliable when it comes to drugged driving charges.

The proposed study, if enacted, could take years to complete, so coming up with a drugged driving per se limit may not happen right away. But, if a person in California is currently charged with DUI/DWI due to marijuana use, they may want to contest such charges, particularly if they feel the field sobriety test they were asked to complete were inaccurate or unfair.

Source: KSBY, "Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham proposes bill setting blood-test threshold for THC," Angel Russell, March 4, 2017

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