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AB 2500 Proposes Changing the Grounds for DUI in California

California Assembly Bill 2500, recently introduced by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, would establish that any detectable amount of a controlled substance could be grounds for a DUI arrest and possible conviction.

While marijuana users who drive are more likely than not the intended targets of AB 2500, those with trace amounts of Vicodin, Ambien, or even diet drugs, such as phentermine could also be prosecuted.

Under AB 2500, if any amounts of these drugs are detected in a motorist, DUI charges could be filed. The result is that if drivers have small amounts of drugs or even trace amounts in their systems, they could be prosecuted for a DUI, even though they may not be "under the influence."

The issue for marijuana users is this: THC, the main ingredient in marijuana, can stay in the bloodstream for a few days – long past the time when the user is considered under the influence. Therefore, medical marijuana users may be prosecuted, even though they are no longer under the influence at the time of driving.

The language of the Bill states the following:

This bill would make it unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle if his or her blood contains any detectable amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol of marijuana or any other drug classified in Schedules I, II, III, or IV of the California Uniform Controlled Substance Act.

Some feel that the bill could be amended as it works its way through the legislature and eventually apply only to marijuana.

The standard BAC in California under VC 23152(b) is .08. However, there is no threshold limit for THC or other controlled substances. Washington State uses 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter. California may eventually follow this model. If this bill becomes law, DUI charges and convictions will undoubtedly increase.