Like a vampire rising from the grave, the effort to impose a per se drugged driving law on Colorado motorists came back to life on Friday, only to have a stake driven through its heart Monday, killing it once and for all -- at least for this session of the state legislature.
But that part of the bill went down in flames in April in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Some legislators had concerns over whether the cutoff was too high or too law, while activists were concerned that any drugged driving bill not be a per se bill. Then, as legislators were pondering the issue, Westword magazine pot critic William Breathes took the blood test. Hours after last smoking, and with no evidence of impairment, Breathes tested at 13 nanograms. Shortly after that intervention, the committee killed the per se language and turned the bill into a study bill.
Many breathed sighs of relief, but then, on Friday, the Senate Appropriations Committee took up the bill. With little discussion, the committee gutted the study language and reinserted the original per se 5 nanogram language.
But Monday evening, a divided Senate rejected the revived per se language, then killed the entire bill on a 20-15 vote. It will be back to the drawing board for the legislature.
Driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs is still illegal in Colorado, but without the passage of this bill, prosecutors will actually have to prove impairment, not just come up with a magic number.
That was fine with Sen. Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora). "If you're going to have a shortcut to presuming somebody is impaired, let's make sure the science is established," she said.