Bill would eliminate per se THC in blood for DUI convictions

The Assembly Judiciary Committee was told Monday that the law saying a driver is guilty of DUI just because they have a measurable level of THC in their blood should be repealed.
Paul Armentano, an expert who has studied the issue for years, said there is no relationship between the THC in someone’s blood and impairment, especially for medical marijuana users who would always test above the state’s current blood THC maximum.
He said that standard is not evidence based, “and could lead to prosecution of drivers who are not impaired.”
Armentano said that’s nothing new, that even a now-40-year-old study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded it’s difficult to establish any correlation between the levels of THC or marijuana metabolites in blood or urine and impairment.
“Per se standards for THC are simply not evidence based,” he said.
Judiciary Chairman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, said AB400 wouldn’t prevent people from being arrested for impaired driving under the influence of pot, it would simply rely on tests for impairment instead of an absolute blood test standard.
Armentano pointed out that Nevada is one of only about five states that have that per se language in the law. The Nevada District Attorneys’ association and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department opposed removing the language with a Metro lieutenant saying without it, a driver who was going 100 mph through a residential neighborhood, who passed a school bus and hit a car, killing its occupants couldn’t be prosecuted.
Yeager later objected to that testimony pointing out that driver would be guilty of several felonies and could still be tested for illegal substances.
Several business representatives objected as did the Highway Patrol saying the change would put Nevada out of compliance with federal rules, potentially costing the state grant money and the ability to issue commercial drivers’ licenses.
Business representatives also question whether AB400 would expose them to more liability for accidents involving workers if they could not prove they were under the influence of pot.
Armentano pointed out that 35 states, including several with legal medical or recreational marijuana, have eliminated the per se language without suffering those consequences.
Yeager pointed out those businesses already deal with prescription drug issues that currently don’t have per se limits for employees driving under the influence of different drugs. He added the bill wouldn’t preclude testing a defendant, it just requires there be other evidence of impairment to prove a drugged driving case, not just the blood test.
The committee took no action on AB400.

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