Earlier this year, AB 2552 was introduced in the California Legislature. The bill, sponsored by Assembly member Norma Torres of Pomona, would have created a zero-tolerance standard for marijuana DUIs.
The bill would have amended the current DUI law (California Vehicle Code section 23152) by adding in the following pertinent language: “It is unlawful for any person who has any level of cannabinoids or synthetic cannabinoid compound in his or her blood or urine to drive a vehicle…” The bill was met with much criticism from several organizations including the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law (NORML) and even the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) organization. Among their contentions were that THC metabolites, the chemical component found in marijuana, can stay in the users system for weeks at a time. Unlike alcohol usage, someone could have smoked marijuana weeks ago and still be found guilty of DUI under the new law. Essentially, someone could be sober and yet still be arrested with trace amounts of THC in their system. Responding to the criticism, Torres amended the bill in early May. The new bill seeks to create distinct subsections for drug DUI, alcohol DUI and combination drug/alcohol DUI. The current law for DUI, California Vehicle Code section 23152(a) states in pertinent part: “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.” New law would create subsections for California Vehicle Code section 23152(a): (1) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle. (2) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle. (3) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle. As of May 31, 2012, the bill was referred to the Senate Committees on Public Safety and Appropriations.