The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The new face of DUIs

Ten or so years ago some folks in the political class tossed around the idea of prosecuting people for having in their bodily fluids chemicals that suggested they had partaken of prohibited substances. Now, today, it’s a fact of life that if you’re forced (no problem, ask judges until Kern signs off) to submit to a chemical analysis of your blood, hair, sweat, piss, or shit, and if the results suggest you’ve been doin’ somethin’ naughty, you’re phoughed.

The most likely place to run into a situation with cops is on the road. You drive, get stopped, submit to or get forced into a piss test with even a trace of THC in your piss, you’re phoughed. It’s a DUI.

Cocaine, meth, smack, poppyseeds, bananas, beers, they can all getcha a DUI. Along with the most benign of all intoxicants, cannabis.

For drivers, the problem is that there is no standard for an acceptable ratio of whatever to whatever, with the exception of beers. We know that if we have had more than one and a half beers per hour during the past two hours, then we’re flirting with a bunch of bad shit if we drive.

If we choose to celebrate happy hour with any number of less harmful intoxicants than alcohol, we can’t drive at all. For days and days. At least we can’t drive without risking a life-ruining event.

If you sell alcohol for a living, that’s a pretty good deal. And, if you sell the illegal stuff, it’s a pretty good deal. After all, you have to charge for the danger factor. For Glenn Brenner it’s a pretty good deal. You’ can provide steady employment for some otherwise unemployable folks, who look at you in reverence for letting them put peaceful honest people in jail for doing nothing. In fact it’s a pretty good deal for lots of levels of the system.

But it’s not a good deal for the folks who have to pay for this Inquisition, this attempted diversion of funds to government-chosen industries which actually results in a 100-fold diversion of funds to government-prohibited industries which results in people getting killed in large numbers for no apparent reason.

The folks who will be paying, in increasing numbers for the next few years, will be drivers. Most states now provide by statute that presence in urine, blood or hair samples, of chemical markers of any prohibited chemical (there are hundreds and hundreds) is prima facie evidence of possession of that chemical and, if you’re driving, you’re phoughed.

You can, however, take heart in this: It’s all about the money. Opportunities are opening up for pleas to lesser offenses in return for larger fines. It doesn’t, however, have much to do with public safety.


Duffer said...

Bob - not telling you anything you don't really know; but as long as Cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug at the Federal level - we're fucked.

I'm posted up in Northbay this winter and watching the news daily out here - mostly about the legal maneuvering between the City of Oakland, the new CA Attorney General, and the U.S. Attorney. You're probably aware that Oakland wants to establish 4-5 licenses ($300-400K per year fee) for grow operations in an industrial park they've set aside.

Just prior to a scheduled Council vote (last week) to announce solicitations for the licenses, the U.S. Attorney sent a letter to the Oakland City Attorney threatening (him) and each member of the Council (individually) with legal action should they take the vote.

Interesting communications circulating now to find some breathing room. You know Holder and Obama are involved in this. Be interesting to see how Kamala Harris (new CA AG) figures in to this. She just departed the SFO D.A. position and has been a key figure in that city's enforcement transformation.

Bottom line - the Oakland Council believes that if they comply with California law, that the Feds shouldn't matter. Feds disagree, but that doesn't jive with Obama's early statement to repsect State's rights in these matters.

Interesting conversation. Washington State has a bill in committee right now that would outright legalize cannabis for adults (21/up) that would be controlled by the State like alcohol sales. (taxes).

Interesting conversation. Signs keep pointing to a move from SD. That legislature is mired in the stone age.

Duffer said...

Research from U.C. Davis, published in the Journal (Animal Cognition) is the first forensic analysis of drug-dog use I've ever seen. (My apologies for not being able to heat-up the link). The parent story link resides on NORML's website currently.

Mike mentioned a while back, anecdotally, that he wagered he could train a dog to do the same crap the highway fascists are pulling daily in SD, and that judges are actually permitting as evidence. This study in Animal Cognition certainly appears to negate the validity of that bs.

Any lawyer in SD with the cajones to actually defend violation of the 4th Ammendment would seemingly be able to use this forensic effort.

Which begs the question: Was forensic evidence supporting canine searches ever presented to the courts to establish its validity in the first place? Do State's Attorneys and A.G.'s need to even bother with such a (formality) in the age of the Patriot Act?

Sam Adams said...

We should care less whether a person is a drunk, crackhead, doper, etc. But when that person's behavior puts any of the rest of us at risk - then that behavior is unacceptable and we ought have zero tolerance for it. Drunks, crackheads, and dopers can wreck their lives all they want - but without benefit using our roads, registered, licensed vehicles for so wrecking their lives and putting ours at risk.

It's a very libertarian concept: behavior - consequence.