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August 2011
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Chicago Tribune gets it

An outstanding editorial from the Chicago Tribune puts some much-needed sanity in the government-fueled hysteria over “drugged driving.”

Someone who drinks to excess and gets behind the wheel of a car can be prosecuted and punished for driving under the influence. Everyone would agree that’s as it should be. But what if the law included DUI to cover anyone driving sober who has had a drink in the last week?

That would make little sense, since the past drinking would have no effect on the motorist’s fitness to drive. But under Illinois law, something very similar is the norm for drivers who have used illegal drugs. […]

But it’s still possible to detect impairment through field sobriety. Potheads may reek of weed. A driver caught on videotape mumbling incoherently would have a hard time arguing the dope in his urine had no effect. In these cases, an officer can request a blood or urine sample — with refusal leading to license suspension.

When felony charges are involved, the law ought to require a showing that the drug in question contributed to the crash. Motorists involved in fatal accidents who have drugs in their bodies should at least have the chance to rebut the presumption that they were impaired.

Driving under the influence is a crime that deserves strict enforcement and stern punishment. Driving long after being under the influence is not the same thing, and it shouldn’t be treated as though it were.

Let’s hope that we see more of this kind of sanity. It’s time for the drug czar’s ugly and fact-free push for per se drugged driving laws to get ridiculed and to stop getting a free pass from the press.

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