4.08.2005

Zero Tolerance aka You are going straight to jail

There are defininately some assinine laws on the books in this and many other countries, but this really hits as idiotic. Evidently there are eleven states that have enacted zero tolerance laws for trace amounts of illicit drugs. The following is an excerpt from NORMLs PDF on these witch hunt type laws:

"Zero tolerance per se laws have little to do with promoting public
safety or identifying motorists who drive while impaired," the report
states. "Rather, the enactment and enforcement of zero tolerance DUID
(driving under the influence of drugs) legislation improperly defines many
sober drivers as 'intoxicated' solely because they were found to have
consumed a controlled substance - particularly marijuana - at some
previous, unspecified point in time."
It continues: "This approach is not based on science but on
convenience. Zero tolerance per se laws define a new, driving-related
offense that is divorced from impairment. In their strictest form, any
driver who tests positive for any trace amount of an illicit drug or drug
metabolite (i.e., compounds produced from chemical changes of a drug in
the body, but not necessarily psychoactive themselves), is guilty per se
of the crime of 'drugged driving,' even if the defendant was sober.
"In the case of marijuana, these laws are particularly troublesome.
THC, marijuana's main psychoactive constituent, may be detected at low
levels in the blood of heavy cannabis users for 1-2 days after past use.
Marijuana's primary metabolite THC-COOH, the most common indicator of
marijuana use in workplace drug tests, is detectable in urine for days and
sometimes weeks after past use - long after any psychoactive effects have
ceased. Consequently, under 'zero tolerance' per se laws, a person who
smoked a joint on Monday could conceivably be arrested the following
Friday and charged with 'drugged driving,' even though he or she is no
longer impaired or intoxicated."
To date, eleven states have enacted zero tolerance per se laws for
controlled substances: Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin. Of
these, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, and Utah forbid drivers from
operating a motor vehicle with any detectable level of a controlled
substance or its metabolites in one's bodily fluids. Similar laws are
pending in additional states.
Get the PDF here.