Aussie drink-driving laws have similar penalties, but our BAC level is still at .05. This will be moved to .02 in the coming years. Be safe for you, your family and the person you may injure because, you thought you were ‘ok to drive!’
SHOULD YOU BE DRIVING? DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE....EVER!
Imagine if you had to tell a family that their child was never coming home again...because a driver had a few too many drinks and they were too lazy to get a taxi? How would you feel if it was your child? Your brother, your parent, your best friend? Now imagine that you're the one who had a few drinks and thought...Home isn't too far. I'll make it without getting busted. While on the back streets worrying if the booze bus will catch you, you hit someone. How do you live with that for the rest of your life?
Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) impairs driving performance and can increase crash risk. These effects are more pronounced in people who use THC occasionally and can last for up to eight hours with oral THC products. There is no evidence that cannabidiol (CBD) impairs driving. Patients using THC-containing products should avoid driving and other safety-sensitive tasks (eg operating machinery), particularly during initiation of treatment and in the hours immediately following each dose. Patients may test positive for THC even if they do not feel impaired, and medical cannabis use does not currently exempt patients from mobile (roadside) drug testing and associated legal sanctions.
Dalgarno Comment:The term ‘behaviourally tolerant’ when used in a clinical report about drug driving issues always raises a red flag.
The research affirms, not only what we instinctively know, but what decades of long fought for science has told us, that intoxicants impair motor and cognitive abilities. Increasing the potential of turning a vehicle into a weapon against public safety.
The fight to have BAC limits introduced was a long and difficult one, but such measures are instrumental in reducing road tolls and associated harms. The increasing push to normalize cannabis use and introduce it to the currents of trade, even if in ‘medicinal’ contexts, means an increasing incidence of people choosing to drive whilst ‘medicated’. We understand from long established research that airline pilots (image below) even after one low dose THC ‘joint’ failed on many task matrices.
The notable concern in the report was the reference to users ‘perception’ of their ability to drive with THC in their system. When drug user self-assessment becomes to diagnostic indicator of ability we have a serious problem.
It may be a factor to consider, but when the following statement: ‘Behavioural Tolerance’ is added to the criteria for evaluation, we have regressed, not only in thinking, but in methodology. It is like going back to the pre-RBT (Random Breath Testing) days of evaluating driving capacity whilst drunk. If one could ‘walk a straight line and stand on one leg’, then that individual was legally ‘capable’ of driving. Although you may have a BAC of .10 (twice the legal limit), if you can ‘prove behavioural tolerance’, then you can keep driving.
Intoxication and impairment cannot be left to subjective self-assessment, and very strict limits/penalties set on substances we know to diminish capacity and agency.)
Gino Vumbaca recommends that Australia learn from New York’s recent legalization effort. Actually, the opposite is true. New York should learn from Australia. New York legislators were intent on lowering the crime category for stoned driving from misdemeanor to petty offense. Only an uprising by safety advocates prevented that disaster.
Sixteen states in the US have zero-tolerance laws for at least some forms of drugged driving, similar to Australia’s laws. It’s the zero tolerance that Vumbaca and others such as Michael White rail against. There is a significant difference in the implementation of those laws between the US and Australia: in the US, a driver must exhibit probable cause of behavioral impairment before a toxicology test can be ordered.
Writers like Vumbaca and White confuse the public by implying that drug per se limits, whether they be zero or some finite number, are selected to define impairment. They aren’t. They are selected as a social and political policy to deter impaired driving. That is why we see different alcohol per se limits in different countries, all based on the same scientific data.
These writers also fail to distinguish between THC’s acute impairment and chronic impairment. It is certainly true that chronic marijuana users can have THC circulating in their blood long after their acute impairment subsides. But we’ve also seen from Gruber and others that chronic users maintain a low level of chronic impairment long after acute impairment has subsided.
Any level of THC in blood may not prove acute impairment, but data still support use of zero tolerance for THC in drivers as a sound social and political policy.
This is why we advocate for Tandem DUI per se which requires not one, but two elements to prove a violation of an impaired drivinglaw: evidence of behavioral impairment and any level of an impairing substance in the driver’s blood or oral fluid.
Ed Wood (Driving Under Influence of Drugs Victim Voices)
Finding: Cannabis impaired driving threatens public safety. States have implemented a variety of laws to address this issue. However, a universal standard to detect cannabis impaired driving does not exist, largely because THC presence in the bloodstream, alone, does not indicate impairment. Given the difficulties and expense involved in establishing cannabis or other drug related impairment, 47 out of 50 states do not differentiate between alcohol and other drugs in such cases or stack the charges. This serves as a deterrent for law enforcement to test for cannabis impairment specifically, which may skew available data on the prevalence of cannabis impaired driving. To augment the shortcomings related to testing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) supports research related to reliable roadside tests and supports training for law enforcement through the Drug 6 Recognition Expert (DRE) and Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) programs. Yet, the DRE program only trains just over one percent of law enforcement officials nationwide, and the ARIDE program only trains approximately eight percent.vi, vii
Recommendation: The Caucus strongly urges the federal government to accelerate research regarding the detection of cannabis impaired driving, including the development of standardized field testing. Moreover, given their success, but limited reach, the Caucus urges NHTSA to increase funding for the DRE and ARIDE programs so that the maximum number of law enforcement and other personnel can be trained on how best to detect cannabis impaired driving. The Caucus further urges Congress to increase federal funding for state forensic and toxicology labs to ensure that testing for cannabis impaired driving is expanded and required, so that available data more accurately reflects the scope of the problem, and to expand innovative and effective programs, such as DUI/DWI courts.
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