Interesting that a bill (AB1356) focused on roadway safety, calling for saliva testing by police for impaired drivers, failed to pass the California Assembly Public Safety Committee. Two members voted for it, while the chairman voted against. Four committee members, abstained and didn’t vote. Their chair is a fellow Democrat, and maybe they felt a need to be loyal towards him. However, not taking a position at all will truly harm Californians, who face terrible traffic and are increasingly terrorized by stoned drivers.
When 16-20% of weekend drivers test positive for drugs, with a 50% increase in marijuana, it is a threat to public safety. Marijuana impaired deaths in California almost doubled from 2004 to 2009, from 630 to 1241. Nationally, 20% of vehicular crashes are caused by drugged driving, leading to 8,600 deaths. 580,000 injuries and $33 million in property damage. (IBHI.org) Drug-driving fatalities are expected to surpass drunk driving fatalities by 2020.
Because of pot-induced brain impairment, stoned drivers have even killed people on sidewalks, including a 7-year old girl on Halloween, a jogger in Chico and a CHP officer in San Bernardino, among others. These drivers pose a threat to public safety, and the Public Safety Committee needs to take it seriously.
In spite of all law enforcement agencies supporting the bill, the opposition came from the pro-drug Drug Policy Alliance. It would be interesting to see if those committee members who abstained are taking contributions from the Drug Policy Alliance which seeks to legalize all drugs.
After the defeat of AB 1356 last night, Rep. Tom Lackey of the Palmdale-Lancaster spoke up. The Palmdale-Lancaster area had been testing this device measure marijuana impairment. It is device being used in VT and one other state and in Belgium. It could have some value as more drivers are using pot while driving.