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Bill Would Strengthen Rules Against Smoking, Consuming Marijuana While Driving

nate steiner / Flickr
 

nate steiner / Flickr

A pair of lawmakers say Prop 64 doesn't go far enough when it comes to making it illegal to smoke marijuana while driving. So they've introduced a bill to change that.

California's vehicle code is clear: "it is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle."

And nothing about Prop 64 changes that law. It does make it illegal to have an open container of marijuana in your vehicle.

"But it said nothing about driving and smoking or ingesting brownies or other forms of taking in marijuana," says State Senator Jerry Hill.

He says the lack of specific language is what prompted him to co-author legislation to make it illegal for a person to smoke marijuana or consume it in any form when they're behind the wheel.

"It's actually creating the law and creating a violation for driving while smoking marijuana," says Hill. "And what we're trying to do is also make sure we are covering all of the potential side effects of smoking and ingesting marijuana around a vehicle."

There's currently no standard for marijuana impairment as there is for blood alcohol levels. But Senator Hill argues this legislation is a way to treat marijuana use the way the law treats driving while under the influence of alcohol.  

You won't hear a counter argument from Jason Kinney who was a spokesman for Prop 64.

He says the bill could be a responsible step.

"Acknowledging that California is now going to have the resources under a legally and tightly regulate marijuana model to address on this issue that has gone ignored for too long," says Kinney. "The issue of people impaired out on the streets."

The bill would allow judges the option of treating the offense as an infraction or a misdemeanor.