Let me preface this by making one thing clear: I firmly belive that if someone drinks and gets behind the wheel, they deserve punishment; And if someone smokes a joint and tries to drive, it’s not much of a difference except in semantics. That said, alcohol is detectable in your system for a very short period of time since it is water soluble. Marijuana on the other hand, is fat soluble, which means that if you smoke a joint and are high for a few hours, that joint is going to be detectable a week later when you are completely sober.
Now, is it fair to cart someone off to jail for smoking some reefer a week ago and chargin them with a DUI simply because it takes longer for the body to remove the traces of THC metabolites? Hell no, but that’s exactly what Congress is proposing. The November Coalition has more in Your License, Your Urine:
[T]he Walsh Group argued that these existing laws are too lax on illicit drug users. To bolster their claim, they argued-without explanation-that actually linking illicit drug use to impaired driving is a “technically complicated and difficult task.” Their solution? States should enact zero tolerance per se laws redefining “drugged drivers” as any motorist who tests positives for any level of illicit drugs or drug metabolites, regardless of whether their driving is impaired.
The bill — Drug Impaired Driving Enforcement Act of 2004 (H.R. 3922) — aims for a “Zero Tolerance” of drivers regardless of whether they are actually impaired. It is being backed up with another bill — H.R. 3907 — which would enact mandatory minimum sentences and withhold 1 to 50 percent of federal highway funds from states which “do not enact laws to prohibit driving under the influence of an illegal drug.”
Do we really need to be putting more non-violent offenders in jail and wasting valuable police forces on this? Look, if the cop pulls over someone who’s car reeks of freshly smoked pot, then I expect they will put them in the back of a cruiser. But this kind of legislation just encourages abuse. Just think of the possibilities: If you get pulled over and the cop decides to do a search and comes across some marijuana in the trunk, you may get a DUI on your record. If you get pulled over and a passenger has weed on them, police can arrest you for suspicion of DUI and take you to jail for a drug test.
Your License, Your Urine [November Coalition]
Drug Impaired Driving Enforcement Act of 2004 (H.R. 3922) [LOC.GOV]
H.R. 3907 [LOC.GOV]