OK DUI Changes Raise Concerns for Some

LAWTON Okla_ A change to Oklahoma's DUI law went into effect this week, and it's raising some concerns.

The law now said you are considered under the influence if you have any amount of a schedule one drug in your system. Those are illegal drugs, like cocaine or marijuana. The concern is that traces of those drugs linger after the effects have worn off.

Unlike alcohol, which can be out of your system in a matter of hours, drugs such as marijuana can stay in your system for months, even though you are no longer impaired.

"Once it gets out into the public where they know it's a trace amount, since some of the drugs stay in your system for so long, it's going to deter some of the people from driving," LPD Traffic Division Supervisor Lt. Jim Cowley said.

Cowley said there still must be a reason for police to stop you in the first place, such as driving left of center or running a red light. Lawton Attorney Taylor Stein still sees a problem with the law, though. Stein said the state has set a specific level of the amount of alcohol that's allowed in a driver's system legally, but it created a different standard for drugs.

"The legislature, on the other hand, has determined that they don't like people using drugs and just said any drug in your system impairs your ability to operate a motor vehicle, and that's not right," Stein said.

Lieutenant Cowley said an officer would have to perform the same test they would for an alcohol DUI, if they suspect the driver is under the influence of something else.

"Once we've reached a point where we think it's drug related, then it would be a drug test," Cowley said. "They could refuse it, if it is. We do a blood test. Then, if it comes back with a trace amount of drugs in it, they can be charged with DUI."

These drugs include marijuana, cocaine and meth. Prescription drugs are not included.

Another change to the DUI law is that first-time offenders will now be required to have a interlocking ignition device installed in their vehicles, instead of their second offense.