Newsbrief: DUID -- Pass It and They Will Prosecute 4/2/04

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Wisconsin's driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) law, signed into law in December, has its first victim. Under the new law, prosecutors need not prove a driver was actually impaired by drugs to convict him of DUID, only that drugs or their metabolites were detectable by drug tests. According to the Waukesha Freeman, Waukesha County prosecutors Tuesday charged Michael Van Patter, 44, of Wauwatosa with DUID after he was found to have traces of crack cocaine in his system.

The law came into effect a year after the Office of National Drug Control Policy opened a nationwide campaign against "drugged driving" (, but was largely impelled by a widely-covered case in which an unborn infant was killed in a crash caused by a driver high on cocaine and is in fact widely known as the "Baby Luke Law." In that case, prosecutors were frustrated because they could only sentence the driver to two years in state prison for negligent vehicular homicide and because they could not prove he actually was impaired.

The new law takes care of both obstacles. Drivers convicted of killing someone while "under the influence" now face up to 26 years in prison, and prosecutors now need not prove they were actually impaired, only that a trace of drugs remained in their systems.

News accounts did not say what caused police to stop Van Patten, but with a record of drunk driving arrests he would have been a person known to police in small-town Wauwatosa. The arresting officer found a crack pipe in the car, and Van Patten admitted having smoked two hours earlier. He was charged with DUID although his blood alcohol level measured 0.02%, well below the cut-off point of 0.08%, because he tested positive for cocaine.

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Issue #331, 4/2/04 Show Cause Hearing for David Borden and David Guard's Civil Disobedience to Take Place This Morning | DRCNet Interview: Floro Tunubalá Paja, Former Governor of the State of Cauca, Colombia | Meth Panic Mantra: Save the Children | Czech Party Seeks Move to US-Style Drug War Policy | DRCNet Press Coverage | Medical Marijuana Advocate Confronts Congressional Opponent at House Hearing | Newsbrief: Federal Appeals Court Rules Police Can Search Without Warrant | Newsbrief: Addicts Take Prescription Heroin for Safety, Stability -- Not to Quit, Study Finds | Newsbrief: Another Safe Injection Site in British Columbia? | Newsbrief: Drugged Driving Bill Introduced in Ohio | Newsbrief: DUID -- Pass It and They Will Prosecute | Newsbrief: Who's Minding Your Utility Bill? | This Week in History | Job, Grant and Internship Opportunities with MPP | The Reformer's Calendar

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