Stoned Driving Crackdown Expands in SoCal

Stoned Driving Crackdown Expands in SoCal

The city of Los Angeles isn't the only  place where  you'll  face an expanding effort to get stoned drivers off the road.

See also: LAPD Targeting Stoned Drivers With Roadside Weed Tests.

The County of Riverside announced it has received nearly a half million bucks in state grant money to go after DUI drug suspects. The cash will help pay for the services of two additional prosecutors dedicated solely to busting doped up motorists:

But unlike L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer, who indicated that the expansion of drug-focused DUI enforcement in Los Angeles was largely inspired by an increase in dispensary-fueled stoned drivers, Riverside is treating all drugs as equal enemies for now.

John Hall, spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney's office, told us this: 

It is important to understand that these efforts target those driving impaired while under the influence of any drug, including not only illegal drugs but also prescription drugs as well.

However, a statement from the office says the enforcement will "combat recent increases in drug-impaired driving," and marijuana accounts for a lot of those increases.

See also: Marijuana Driving, Other Drug-Based DUIs on the Increase in California.

It would appear that the noose around cannabis-using drivers is getting tighter in Southern California. L.A.'s own effort involves an expanded attempt to conduct mouth swabs of drivers cops think might be stoned. The swabs test for seven drugs.

They used to be the exclusive domain of LAPD DUI checkpoints and jails, but now they will be everywhere, officials announced recently. However, the swabs are purely optional. Drivers can say no.

See also: Tips for Drivers Stopped by the LAPD for Weed.

In Riverside County, the long arm of the law is not so much about the swab as it is the prosecutors you'll face in court. The $484,939 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety will add up to three prosecutors working solely on drugged-driver cases, the office announced this week.

The attorneys this year will be specially trained in the ways of busting you for driving under the influence of drugs, according to the announcement. It's a harder case to prosecute than drunk driving because there are no state guidelines, for example, on how much marijuana-derived THC you can have in your bloodstream.

There's no pot version of .08. Yet.

With just one prosecutor last year, the Riverside D.A.'s office says it obtained 300 drugged-driving convictions in 2013. According to the office:

The goal of the DUI Vertical Prosecution team is to prevent drug-impaired driving
and reduce drug-impaired traffic fatalities and injuries by holding drug-impaired drivers accountable. 

Driving through the Inland Empire any time soon? Don't say we didn't warn you.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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