Marijuana and driving: Prosecutor shares challenges of trying DWI cases

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Joshua Boone is the chief deputy district attorney in the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Boone says there are a few problems when it comes to drugged driving – the first is knowing how big of a problem it is.

“Trust me, I’ve looked into this many times,” he said.

DWI cases – whether it be for alcohol or drugs – are all under one umbrella. Boone says impaired drivers will often have both alcohol and drugs in their system, and it’s easier to charge them for the alcohol because there is an established legal limit.

There’s also another challenge.

“On felony cases, we do have the ability to get a blood warrant, which is nice,” Boone said. “We don’t have that ability in misdemeanor cases, though.”

A vast majority of DWIs in Bernalillo County are misdemeanors. While drivers can give a breath test to determine blood alcohol content, the law protects misdemeanor cases from blood draws – something Boone would like to see changed.

Last year, state Rep. Bill Rehm attempted to bring legislation to set a legal limit for driving while high on cannabis. His idea never gained traction in the Roundhouse – just as similar bills this year appear to have met their end in committee.

However, House Bill 275 is asking for $650,000 to test out a cannabis saliva test for drivers. It is similar to what other states, like Montana, have tried.

HB 275 is still in committee, and it has not been scheduled with only days remaining in this year’s session.

“I think everything we’ve wanted the Legislature to consider, we’ve sent up to them and have advocated for, we’re just waiting for them to do what they need to do,” Boone said.

Track HB 275 during the legislative session.