Article excerpt

Driving under influence of drugs

DUI usually refers to driving under the influence of alcohol. But as the Daily Herald reported Monday, some law enforcement authorities are increasingly zeroing in on motorists for driving under the influence of marijuana or other illegal drugs.

That variety of DUI does occur. Maybe often. One suburban emergency room doctor told the Daily Herald that his staff regularly sees and treats drivers under the influence of drugs. And there are surveys:

- A 2004 survey of high school seniors had 13 percent saying that they had driven while high on marijuana.

- 1993 study of truck drivers involved in fatal crashes showed that 30 percent tested positive for drugs.

- Various state studies have shown 4 percent to 14 percent of drivers killed or injured in traffic accidents tested positive for marijuana.

Illinois is among only 12 states that makes it unlawful to drive with any level of illegal drugs in the blood system. That in itself is somewhat controversial. Other states authorize arrests only if a motorist has certain levels of the drug in his blood or urine or if the driver shows evidence of being impaired when pulled over by police.

Which of these two is the better approach?

It's not difficult to argue that people who use illegal drugs in the first place have little room to complain that Illinois makes it a crime to drive with even a trace of those drugs in a driver's system. …