House lawmakers may consider drugged driving bill


Lawmakers are clear that they don't want drivers on drugs, but they're not sure what to do about it and are beginning to run out of time this session.

The House Judiciary Committee last week said it may consider setting standards for drugged driving.

The committee plans to hear from four experts about DUI Wednesday morning, according to its online schedule.

This topic arose in part because the law decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana that passed last year called for a task force to examine laws surrounding driving under the influence of drugs. The task force did not arrive at a single recommendation for how to set the law.

House Judiciary does not have a bill before it but last week discussed the possibility of introducing a committee bill, since the deadline to file individual bills has passed. They could also modify H.501, a related bill.

In Vermont there is a higher standard of proof for drugged driving than there is for driving under the influence of alcohol. The standard for DUI-alcohol in Vermont is a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. The court has also set a second standard of "impairment to the slightest degree."

To charge someone with DUI-drugs, however, prosecutors must prove the person was incapable of driving safely.

The committee Thursday considered language proposed by legislative attorney Erik FitzPatrick that would raise the drugged driving standard to "impairment to the slightest degree."

Some committee members last week said they were not sure if creating a more specific standard would actually deter drivers from driving while on drugs.


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