Some people have wondered at why I’m using up political capital in the “losing” issue of countering the government’s drugged driving campaign. “You’re never going to be able to convince the public that stoned driving is safe, so you should drop it.”
Even though I’m not trying to convince the public that stoned driving is safe — merely not the level of danger being touted by the feds in context — I understand the argument (people often don’t deal well with nuance). However…
Here’s one reason why I never will drop it.
An Aurora woman who was reaching for her sunglasses when she set off a chain reaction crash that killed a St. Charles couple riding a motorcycle pleaded guilty Friday to aggravated DUI.
Alia Bernard, 27, admitted having marijuana in her system on May 29, 2009, when she rear-ended a stopped car on Illinois Route 47 in Kane County between Sugar Grove and Elburn.
The car Bernard struck hit another car waiting to make a left turn as a line of motorcyclists came by in the oncoming lane. The force of the collision pushed the lead car into the path of motorcyclists Wade and Denise Thomas, of St. Charles, who struck the car and were killed, authorities said.
Although tests showed Bernard had marijuana in her system, she hadn’t used the drug in the three or four days before the crash and wasn’t impaired, said her lawyer, Bruce Brandwein.
“It was sunny and the sun was bouncing off the chrome of the motorcycles and she went to get her sunglasses and when she looked up, there was a car stopped in the road,” he said.
Illinois has a per se law for marijuana and driving (what the Drug Czar is pushing for the entire country). This means that any amount in the blood counts as driving impaired for enhanced sentencing.
She could get as much as 28 years.
Now this was a tragedy. It was also an accident. If you want to charge people with an aggravated felony for reaching for sunglasses without being properly stopped, then do so, but don’t charge someone for something they did days before and pretend that you care about highway safety.
Nobody would add a charge in a fatal accident because the driver had been seen drinking in a bar two days before.
This isn’t at all about highway safety or reducing traffic deaths.
This law is about not liking the kind of people who use marijuana, and finding another way to punish them for being that kind of people. Period.
It’s an ugly law and an affront to justice. It’s also based on unscientific demagoguery by the Drug Czar and his minions like Kevin Sabet.