Under SB 289, introduced by state Sen. Lou Correa, it is illegal for a person to have in his or her blood any detectable amount of drugs while driving, unless it was taken in accordance with a valid prescription from a doctor.
The drugs are from those classified in Schedules I, II, III, or IV of the California Uniform Controlled Substance Act.
Former Sacramento Sheriff John McGinness, who represents the California Peace Officers Association, supports the bill.
“You’re talking about something that’s per se unlawful, prohibited -- so therefore, its mere presence, coupled with the operation of the motor vehicle, is a threat to the safety of the public,” McGinness told KCRA 3, adding that he is waiting for details on how the bill would be enforced.
The most current draft of SB 289 does not make an exception for marijuana, for which patients receive a doctor’s recommendation, rather than a prescription.
“It would impact thousands and thousands of patients across the state who are not impaired,” said Lanette Davies, a spokesperson for Crusaders for Patients Rights. “There’s nothing in their system that’s impairing them, but they would be driving illegally if this bill is passed.”
Davies said a better way to ensure safe driving would focus on the nature of impairment, rather than the medication in the driver’s system.
However, supporters believe SB 289 is a good start in getting drugged drivers off the roads.
“The goal is to minimize the likelihood of anybody operating a motor vehicle on the highways in California when there’s evidence to show they have some level of impairment that will compromise your safety and mine,” McGinness said.
According to a recent study released by the Office of Traffic Safety, more California drivers tested positive for drugs that may impair driving at 14 percent, than they did for alcohol at 7.3 percent.
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