Cleveland Cavalier Shumpert arrested for Marijuana DUI

From TMZ:

Cleveland Cavs star Iman Shumpert was arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana back in August … TMZ Sports has learned.

According to the police report, Shumpert was pulled over outside of Atlanta on August 10th around 11:37 PM for a lane change violation and because his taillights weren’t on in his rented Audi A3.

During the stop, the officer says Shumpert reeked of weed — and his eyes were bloodshot.

Shumpert told the cop he had just come from his “homegirl’s house” and was going to pick up his father from the airport.

The cop administered a field sobriety test and determined Shumpert was high. Shumpert also admitted he had smoked weed before leaving his friend’s house.

Cops searched the car and found a mason jar with marijuana.

Cops wanted to perform a blood test on Shumpert but he refused — claiming, “people would recognize him and it would cause a scene.”

Shumpert was handcuffed and arrested for DUI marijuana and possession of weed (less than an ounce). He was also cited for failure to maintain his lane.

The Cavs issued a statement saying they have discussed the situation with Iman and “will monitor the progression of the pending case.”


Marijuana decriminalization bill signed by Gov, ends “Zero Tolerance” Pot DUI law

Governor Rauner signed into law SB 92228, which makes possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a fine only offense, and sets a new legal limit for operating under the influence of cannabis, replacing a zero tolerance standard and replacing it with a new “legal limit” of 5 nanograms of THC per mililiter of whole blood (or 10 nanograms in saliva or other bodily substance).

Not affected by this change is the previous law that also made it a DUI offense to drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis.

The fine for marijuana possession under 10 grams will be a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $200.  Anyone cited for possession of marijuana paraphernalia at the same time will only be subject to a fine in a similar amount.

Since possession of marijuana under 10 grams is now a civil violation instead of a criminal offense, the legislature was able to ease the prosecution’s burden of proof.  A crime lab testing showing that the substance was tested and proven to be marijuana is no longer required; the prosecution can establish its case either through opinion testimony by the arresting officer (with the proper foundation) or use of a properly conducted field test.

Under the new law, anyone fined for possession of marijuana in an amount less than 10 grams will have their citation automatically expunged, if they have paid their fine and completed their sentence.  The Clerk is to expunge these cases twice a year, on or before January 1 and July 1.


Court vacates 7 year sentence for woman who caused accident 2 days after smoking pot

Over four years ago, I posted this blog post entitled “Why is this woman facing 6 to 28  years in prison?”  It was about a young woman named Alia Bernard, who, two days after smoking marijuana, caused a fatal motor vehicle crash.  Under Illinois’ draconian “zero tolerance” laws, she was sentenced to seven years in prison for the crime of driving while there was still trace residue of marijuana in her system (and causing a fatal accident, which otherwise would have been mostly a civil matter).

Common sense (sort of) prevailed when a new judge vacated her sentence and sentenced her to probation instead (the judge that sentenced her to prison has retired).  I say that common sense “sort of” prevailed because I don’t think that there is any common sense to a law that punishes having traces of marijuana in your blood instead of punishing people that are actually under the influence; but under our ridiculous laws, probation was the best sentence she could get.

In Illinois, probation can only be given in a fatal DUI case when there are extraordinary circumstances (even in a case like this, when the person was not “under the influence”).  The new judge stated in re-sentencing Bernard: “The criminal act, which is the cannabis in the system, played no role in this action … the facts of this case are unique and for me, rise to the level of extraordinary circumstances.”

Congratulations to defense attorney Donald Ramsell, who took over the case and raised issues in the State Police crime lab’s blood testing that led to the new sentence.

John Stamos charged with DUI, allegedly had used GHB

stamosFrom Radar Online:

John Stamos Thursday was officially charged with DUI in Los Angeles, has learned.

The 51-year-old is charged with a misdemeanor count of driving while under the influence of drugs, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, after concerned onlookers reported his bizarre behavior and bad driving to police.

As Radar previously reported, Stamos was using the substance GHB to enhance his fitness and “lean out body mass,” as it’s taken by some bodybuilders.

The ER hunk last month told TODAY host Matt Lauer he feels better than he has in a decade after entering rehab in the wake of his June 12 arrest, adding, “I’m good … I’m very, very good.”

The handsome Fuller House actor told Lauer that adding that he’d been struggling since his mother, Loretta Phillips Stamos, died last year, as “she was the love of my life.”

The star’s arraignment is slated for Friday at 8:30 a.m. PT at the Airport Courthouse in Los Angeles. Because it’s a misdemeanor, the actor does not have to show up for the hearing.

If convicted, he could face up to six months in custody, authorities said.

Will driving under the influence of drugs soon become more common than under the influence of alcohol?

From a story by Jon Smitz for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

A new report says drivers are nearly as likely to be high on pot or pills as drunk on alcohol, and it urges states to take steps to better monitor and control drugged driving.

The report, “Drug-Impaired Driving: A Guide for What States Can Do,” cites crash data and surveys chronicling a steady increase in driving under the influence of drugs, even as drunken driving rates continue to fall.

“I don’t think drugged driving has received nearly the attention that drunk driving has received,” said the author, James Hedlund, a retired executive with the federal National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration who has studied and written extensively on highway safety.

The report was issued today by the Governors Highway Safety Association, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C.

Using the most recent available data from fatal crashes, it said nearly 40 percent of the victims who were tested had drugs in their system, with about one-third testing positive for marijuana. But it cautioned that the data has limitations, including no distinction between THC, the marijuana component that causes impairment, and metabolites that remain in a person’s system long after the effects of smoking pot have worn off.

As debate intensifies about whether marijuana, now legal in some form in nearly half of the states, causes an increased crash risk for drivers, better data is needed, Mr. Hedlund said.

“The jury is still very much out,” he said. “You certainly could not say unambiguously that marijuana increases crash risk. The only thing you can say with confidence is that in laboratory experiments, it affects a lot of things that are related to driving.”

A research paper by NHTSA in February said “there is evidence that marijuana use impairs psychomotor skills, divided attention, lane tracking and cognitive functions. However, its role in contributing to the occurrence of crashes remains less clear.”

While measurement of alcohol impairment is clearly established, with all states classifying an 0.08 blood alcohol level as the threshold of intoxication, there is no similar standard for what constitutes impairment from marijuana, Mr. Hedlund said. Some states, including Pennsylvania, have what amounts to “zero tolerance” laws, while others have established largely arbitrary thresholds for THC levels.

The report recommends better public education, noting that most drivers in surveys have said they don’t believe marijuana impairs their driving, while some said it improves their performance behind the wheel.

While police officers routinely are trained in detecting alcohol intoxication, relatively few are schooled in recognizing impairment from marijuana, prescription medicines, illegal narcotics or over-the-counter medications, it said.

Read the full story here:

Pending Illinois Marijuana bill would do away with “zero tolerance” marijuana DUIs and set a “legal limit”

A bill that is currently pending in the Illinois legislature to make small amounts (15 grams or less) of marijuana a petty offense, punishable by fine only, has been amended to include another major change that I have been long advocating for on this blog.

Under the amended version of HB 218, the law would “provides that a person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle within this State when the person has, within 2 hours thereof, a tetrahydrocannabinol concentration in the person’s whole blood or other bodily substance of 15 nanograms or more of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol per milliliter of whole blood or 25 nanograms or more of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol per milliliter of other bodily substance from the unlawful consumption of cannabis (rather than a concentration in any amount).”

This is a major change from our current law, which outlaws driving with any amount of cannabis in a person’s blood, breath or urine.  In other words, as it currently stands, you could smoke some marijuana on April 10th and be charged with a DUI based on cannabis still in your system on May 7th, regardless of a total lack of impairment.  Crazy, right?

I am glad that the legislature has been listening to reason.  Lets hope this bill passes.

Illinois State Bar Association to push to correct law that punishes unimpaired driving with traces of cannabis

I have written several times about the Illinois “zero-tolerance” laws that make it a crime to drive a motor vehicle with even a trace of a narcotic, such as cannabis, in one’s bloody system, even if that trace is metabolite residue that comes from usage days or weeks before.

Even worse, if there is a fatal accident, and a driver has a trace amount of a narcotic in his or her system, he can be charged with a DUI involving death regardless of his or her fault in the occurrence.

Here is a a real life example of this poorly thought out law:  Scott Shirey was prosecuted by the Lake County State’s Attorney after a fatal crash which occurred when his vehicle was stopped at a red light and a distracted driver crashed into his car, killing one of his sons and seriously injuring another.  Because it was a fatality, Mr. Shirey was required to take a blood test, and he tested positive for cannabis metabolite, i.e., he had used marijuana days or weeks earlier.  No one ever accused him of being impaired and no one believed that he caused the crash.  However, he was charged and faced up to 14 years in prison.  He was ultimately sentenced to 30 months probation.

Not everyone is so lucky.  I have written about people getting 18 months, 6 years and 15 years for similar offenses that did not involve impairment — merely the presence of cannabis residue in their system.

Now the Illinois State Bar Association is pushing legislation to correct these terrible laws and to put Illinois in line with 34 other states that require impairment for a driving under the influence of drugs case.  There is no good reason to support the existing law, and none has been offered, except that “drugs are bad.”  That may be enough for Mr. Mackey, but that should not be enough for the rest of us.