Drugged Driving

Drugged Driving: Michigan Supreme Court Upholds State DUID Law — Now You
Don’t Even Have to Be High to Get Busted 6/23/06

If you smoke a joint Friday night and drive to work bright-eyed and
bushy-tailed Monday morning in Michigan, you can be arrested, charged,
and convicted as a drugged driver because inactive chemical traces of
THC, or metabolites, remain in your bloodstream. The Michigan Supreme
Court ruled Wednesday that motorists can be convicted of Driving Under
the Influence of Drugs (DUID) even if they are not under the influence of
drugs. According to the Supreme Court opinion in the consolidated cases
Derror v. Michigan and Kurts v. Michigan authored by Justice Maura
Corrigan, actual innocence of driving while impaired is “irrelevant.”

In both cases, authorities charged the defendants under the Michigan
DUID law based on the presence of cannabis metabolites, an inert
byproduct of the body’s breakdown of THC, in their blood. The presence of
metabolites does not indicate impairment or being “under the influence”;
it only indicates that someone ingested THC at some time in the past, as
the state Supreme Court acknowledged in its ruling. Both trial courts
held that the metabolite was not “marijuana” and thus a controlled
substance under state law, a position upheld on appeal.

Both a majority on the Supreme Court disagreed. Neither the DUID nor
the controlled substances law “requires that a substance have
pharmacological properties to constitute a schedule I controlled
substance,” the majority held. Neither does the DUID law “require that a
defendant be impaired while driving. Rather, it punishes for the
operation of a motor vehicle with any amount of schedule I controlled
substance in the body.”

Then, breathtakingly, Justice Corrigan wrote, “It is irrelevant that a
person who is no longer ‘under the influence’ of marijuana could be
prosecuted under the statute. If the Legislature had intended to
prosecute only people who were under the influence while driving, it
could have written the statute accordingly.”

Now, any Michigan driver who has smoked marijuana in the last few days
or, in the case of heavier smokers, up to three or four weeks, is subject
to a DUID arrest based on the presence of inert leftover metabolites that
do not actually indicate impairment. In a harsh dissent, Justice Michael
Cavanaugh warned the court it would criminalize a huge class of
people.

“Today’s holding now makes criminals out of numerous Michigan citizens
who, before today, were considered law-abiding, productive members of our
community,” he wrote. “Now, if a person has ever actively or passively
ingested marijuana and drives, he is [unknowingly] breaking the law,
because if any amount of [cannabis metabolites] can be detected — no
matter when [the marijuana] was previously ingested — he is committing a
crime. The majority’s interpretation, which has no rational relationship
to the Legislature’s genuine concerns about operating a motor vehicle
while impaired, violates the United States Constitution and the Michigan
Constitution.”

The ruling could have an impact beyond Michigan. Twelve other states
have enacted laws making it a criminal offense to drive under the
influence of drugs. They use standards similar to those upheld this week
— the presence of trace levels of drugs or metabolites — to assume
impairment. Unlike drunk driving laws, which assume a certain blood
alcohol level after which one is considered impaired, the DUID laws
assume that the presence of any metabolite or trace proves
impairment.

Source: http://stopthedrugwar.org/

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