The Associated Press
AKRON, Ohio - Summit County has passed a pioneering law designed to make it easier to convict people for driving while drugged.
The law, which took effect Aug. 26, is part of an emerging effort to raise awareness of "drugged driving" and to make drugged drivers as accountable as those who drive while drunk.
The Summit County law establishes a limit for the amount of cocaine permitted in a motorist's blood.
Summit County Councilman Paul Gallagher, the sponsor of the law, said the level needed for a conviction is the lowest level of cocaine that can be detected accurately.
If that level is exceeded, a driver can be charged with DUI and receive the same penalties as a drunken driver.
Gallagher, an assistant prosecutor in neighboring Portage County, said police throughout Ohio already can ask for a drug test if there is probable cause to believe a driver is impaired. But outside of Summit County, there are no blood-level limits as there are for alcohol.
Gallagher said he wants to eventually expand his law to include marijuana.
Don Malarcik, an Akron criminal defense lawyer, said drugged-driving laws invite courtroom challenges.
"There is no way to determine when someone ingested marijuana, based on a blood or urine test," Malarcik said.
"What amount of marijuana in your system determines you are impaired? How much cocaine impairs your driving ability? I don't think there is any reliable scientific evidence that answers that question."
TOP LOCAL STORIES
Budget backs up sewer fixes
Police race data filed and forgotten
Security impedes university research
Public events on Sept. 11
PULFER: Anguished family wants to warn other women
BRONSON: 'Teachers, don't leave them kids alone'
HOWARD: Good Things Happening
Photo of the Day: Pool for Pooches
Teacher speaks out on impoverished school
Bengals fans may meet detours
Candidate critical of Main St. plan
He's 98, and still a great band-mate
AROUND THE TRISTATE
Beer fest at Oktoberfest
Everyone welcome at Taste of India
Kings makes do with old sports field
Twins who allegedly plotted get probation
You're invited, Milford and Miami Township!
Mary Vera Brown was active in church, business, community
Radio broadcaster Paul Miller had a flair for stunts
Lawrence Riegling delivered for UPS
Markers to salute history of labor
Cleveland suburb remembers 9-11
New law gets tough on 'drugged driving'
Rain could squash pumpkin harvest
CROWLEY: Dems talk big, but can they win?
Gas tax boost faces rough road
Ludlow wanted jail-time-for-cash deal
Pilot's killer will testify against wife
Ohio River bridges plan OK'd by Feds
Lexington transit unsafe, says report
Early opening launches lengthy deer season