There's a bill winding its way through the California Legislature that would require law enforcement to administer a blood test, not urine, to drivers suspected of drug DUIs.
Under current law, DUI offenders suspected of being under the influence of
drugs or the combination of drugs and alcohol can opt for a blood or urine test,
states Assemblyman Richard Pan, the author of the bill, in an Assembly analysis of the bill.
"While the urine test used to be an option for those suspected of driving under the influence of only alcohol, the test was removed as an option in 1998 because of its unreliability," Pan says.
The test, however, is still an option for those driving under the influence of drugs or the combination of drugs and alcohol. Pan says this minor loophole results in more DUI court cases being dismissed because of unreliable urine tests, and puts the safety of the public at risk.
"Tighter DUI laws mean safer citizens and safer communities. AB 2020 is a necessary piece of legislation to ensure that DUI drug and combination drug and alcohol offenders can be accurately prosecuted," states Pan, a Sacramento Democrat who represents portions of South Placer County.
AB 2020 is supported by Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Crime Victims United and California District Attorneys Association.
It faces fierce opposition from the California Public Defenders Association whose representatives calls the bill unnecessary.
"Both scientific literature and several published court decision have repeatedly and uniformly held that properly conducted and timely urine tests can produce forensically reliable measurement of virtually all drugs in a test subject system," argues the CPDA.
"Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has consistently held that blood, breath, or
urine tests are searches, and that invasive searches of the interior of the body require special justification and a balancing of need against the medical risk and invasiveness involved in sticking a needle into someone's vein."
The bill passed the scrutiny of the Assembly Public Safety Committee this week, with four aye votes and two members abstaining, including committee chairman Tom Ammiano, a Democrat from San Francisco.