Pushback Against Zero Tolerance Policy Toward Underage Marijuana DUI

Many states, including California, have zero-tolerance laws when it comes to underage driving under the influence. In California, a driver under the age of 21 can be charged with DUI with a blood-alcohol content of just .01%. With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, there have been recent attempts to institute a zero-tolerance policy in regards to underage consumption of marijuana and driving. However, there has also been pushback against this policy, as the LA Times reports.

Amid strong opposition from drug legalization advocates, California lawmakers backed away from a proposal to invoke “zero-tolerance” policies regarding underage marijuana consumption.

The proposed legislation was supported by Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) who proposed that the state should adopt the same zero-tolerance policies it has for underage driving under the influence of alcohol when it comes to marijuana. The proposal included a one-year suspension of the person’s driver’s license if caught.

Democratic Senators Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Stephen Bradford (D-Gardena) abstained from voting, citing the belief that such legislation would disproportionately target young people of color.

Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) said that she supported making the bill a little more benign. Senator Skinner also said that there was no zero-tolerance law for distracted driving, which kills many more young drivers than DUI.

Senator Hill believes that some kind of policy regarding driving under the influence of marijuana is necessary, citing statistics. In 2013, 3.5% of minors killed in traffic accidents had marijuana in their system. By 2015, that number had jumped to 15%.

Opponents of the legislation also stated that the testing mandated in the bill, such as the saliva-swab testing, is inaccurate and been known to generate false-positive results.

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