California bill targets drugged driving

| 11/12/2007

A California state lawmaker is calling for the state to enact a zero-tolerance policy toward all drivers with illegal drugs in their system.

The state considers drivers to be under the influence of alcohol if their blood alcohol content is at least 0.08 percent. In California and more than 30 other states, however, there is no similar threshold for illegal drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.

Supporters say the lack of an illegal drug standard complicates trials and regularly results in charges being dropped for driving under the influence.

In hopes of changing that, Assemblyman John Benoit, R-Bermuda Dunes, has offered a bill that would set a “per se” legal standard on drugged driving. Drivers would be considered to be under the influence if they tested positive for any amount of drugs in their system.

Exceptions would be made for marijuana users or people taking prescription drugs.

Benoit’s bill – AB1215 – remained in the Assembly Public Safety Committee when this year’s session ended. The panel is expected to pick up the bill for consideration during the regular session that begins in January.

To view other legislative activities of interest for California in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor