NORML senior policy analyst Paul Armentano, an expert on drug testing policy, this week issued a sobering new report on an effort crafted by drug war bureaucrats and drug testing entrepreneurs to criminalize drug users who drive -- even if they're not under the influence. Known as "Driving Under the Influence of Drugs" or DUID laws, the laws are already on the books in 11 states, with efforts underway to pass them in more.
But as Armentano notes in the introduction to his report, You Are Going Directly to Jail, while the laws are billed as an effort to crack down on "drugged driving," such laws -- and the "zero-tolerance" per se laws in particular -- "have little to do with promoting public safety or identifying motorists who drive while impaired." Instead, such laws incorrectly and improperly define drivers as impaired solely because a controlled substance or its metabolites were found in their bodily fluids.
"Zero-tolerance" per se laws are similar to those laws governing driving while drunk, with one huge difference: While drunk driving laws set a scientifically established standard at which intoxication is presumed to occur -- typically 0.08% blood alcohol level�the "zero-tolerance" laws set that standard at zero. In other words, any drug or metabolite found in a driver's bodily fluids would be sufficient to charge her with drugged driving.
"These laws are not about promoting public safety or stopping motorists who drive while impaired," said Armentano at least week's NORML conference, where he unveiled the study. "They're really about people like you. They want to stop you from smoking pot, and this is the way they've come up with to do it. They want to create a new crime, they want laws that say if you use an illicit substance and we can identify that substance, you are guilty of drugged driving."
The report is a comprehensive examination of the push for DUID laws, the science (or lack thereof) behind it, and how to combat it. With the blessing of drug czar John Walters, who declared a national crusade against drugged driving in December 2002, the battle is likely to come to a statehouse near you. With "You Are Going Directly to Jail," you can arm yourself and your legislators for the battle.