Sunday, February 17, 2013

AZ court: DUIs don’t require actually being “under the influence”

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It’s all too often that I find myself both astounded and depressed at the almost cartoonish stupidity and injustice exhibited some courts of law in the US, particularly when any form of drugs are involved:

An Arizona appeals court has ruled that marijuana users don't need to be actually impaired to be successfully prosecuted for driving under the influence. The ruling came Tuesday in the case of a man who tested positive for an inactive marijuana metabolite that remains in the body for weeks after the high from smoking marijuana has worn off.

The ruling in Arizona v. Shilgevorkyan overturned a decision by a superior court judge who said that it didn't make sense to prosecute people for driving under the influence if they're not actually under the influence.

The ruling turned on a close reading of legislative intent in writing the state's DUID law. The legislation specified the presence of "the metabolite" of THC, and Shilgevorkyan had argued that lawmakers meant "hydroxy-THC, the metabolite which would indicate current impairment, not carboxy-THC, an inactive metabolite that indicates only usage some time in the past.

The appeals court disagreed, citing its decisions on earlier challenges to the DUID. "The legislature intended to create a 'per se prohibition' and a 'flat ban on driving with any proscribed drug in one's system," the court noted. "We determined that the legislative ban extends to all substances, whether capable of causing impairment or not."

In other words: It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you’ve taken a substance, how much of it is present in your system, or if it’s actually affecting you in any way, shape or form – or if it’s even possible for it to affect you – because, well, drugs are bad, m’kay?

I’d say there has to be some sort of legal principle against any rationale that ridiculously hackneyed and overbroad, but the fact that none was brought up to prevent this ruling would indicate that there isn’t. And that’s one damning condemnation against the legal system and its agenda-driven puppets all on its own.

(via @BuzzFeedAndrew)