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California is working to develop DUI standards for medicine

There is a movement nationwide to start creating standards for DUI in relation to medications and controlled substances. In a state like California, the concern and need for standards is strong, especially in view of the law allowing medicinal use of marijuana. Marijuana is legal to use in various circumstances, but a law has not been clearly expressed that provides a standard as to how much marijuana in an individual's bloodstream would make it illegal to drive. In the California State Senate, one senator is working to standardize and strengthen DUI laws related to controlled substances.

The senator wants to increase prosecution for DUIs for controlled substances. It can be difficult to prosecute DUI outside of alcohol use because the degree of intoxication is not standardized. With alcohol intoxication, on the other hand, police officials can use a breathalyzer or blood test and match the individual's sample against the standard for California. With DUI that is related to prescription drugs or other medications and treatments, there is no clear standard.

Under the first version of the bill people with prescriptions for the controlled substances including medical marijuana would be excluded from prosecution. The proposal would limit prosecution for DUI to people without prescriptions for the controlled substances they had consumed. The standard proposed by the bill is detectable levels of a long list of medical treatments and drugs.

If the bill is passed as it is proposed, it may affect a lot of people. Steroids, for example, are included as illegal under the law. Many people take health treatments that may contain small amounts of steroids or other detectable levels of drugs or medicines that could lead to DUI charges. It is also not clear what a detectable level is, or how one would establish it safely after someone has taken a drug that is on the list. It may benefit people who have exposure to such medicines to be aware of how the law develops so they can understand their rights if they find themselves accused of DUI charges.

Source: nbclosangeles.com, "Bill Would Clarify DUI Laws for Pharmaceuticals, Pot," Feb. 20, 2013

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