Friday, September 4, 2009

DUI attorney challenges laws prohibiting driving while stoned

By Stephen C. Webster

Is driving while under the influence of THC, one of marijuana's active ingredients, actually dangerous? One prominent California DUI attorney believes it is not nearly as dangerous as driving drunk and has issued a challenge to laws that punish marijuana users who get behind the wheel.

San Diego defense attorney Lawrence Taylor, considered "The Dean of DUI Attorneys," according to a release by his firm, is apparently arguing that DUI laws are unfair because they do not allow consideration for the varying degrees of inebriation caused by drugs of abuse.

Drivers convicted of marijuana intoxication are usually sentenced only after authorities have taken a blood sample. However that blood sample, he notes, only measures the body's metabolism of marijuana's compounds, not the actual level of impairment.

Evidence of marijuana use can remain in the human body for weeks or or longer, as it has been shown to latch on to fat cells, causing some inactive users to fail drug tests after a period of weight loss. For drivers accused of operating a vehicle while stoned, the presence of blood test results showing recent marijuana consumption can become a tricky legal hurdle.

In an advisory circulated through PRNewswire, Taylor cites two recent federal studies which concluded driving stoned is less dangerous than driving drunk, particular for more experienced marijuana users.

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