Michigan’s Zero Tolerance Law Could Help Land Innocent People in Jail

A Michigan driver will spend 6 months in jail for the accidental death of a bicyclist how rode into her path, despite the fact that the death was not her fault.  Ralph Martin, 64, was killed in Muskegon on November 26th, 2015 after Kali’s car hit him. Many argue that Michigan’s “zero tolerance” is unjust and is unscientific in its application to drugged driving.

The problem lies in that Schram had an extremely small, yet detectable amount of THC in her blood a the time the accident occurred.   Evidence shows, however, that Schram was not impaired by marijuana or that the THC in her bloodstream even contributed to the deadly crash.  In reality, Schram was not at fault, having the right of way when the bicyclist suddenly appeared in the intersection prior to the collision. Her lawyer says that “she could not have done anything to avoid this particular incident”.

Although the evidence is compelling that this death, while tragic, was simply an accident.  In Michigan that does not matter however.   It is illegal to drive in Michigan with “any amount” of a controlled substance in your body. THC does count as a Schedule 1 drug, even at the lowest levels, ones that are far too low to impair driving ability.

In this particular case, the judge had to decide Schram’s fate based on the facts and circumstances of the case.  She received a sentence of 6 months, but could have gotten two years in jail – even though it was proven that she did nothing wrong in this case.

A similar case occurred in Muskegon County in 2016 in which a driver received a 6 month sentence to due an accident that killed his pregnant girlfriend sitting in the passenger seat.  Donovan Wilson’s THC amount was low and even the Muskegon County Sheriff did not believe drugs were a factor in the crash.

Ironically, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana patients are immune from prosecution for “internal possession” of THC when driving unless they truly are “under the influence” of the drug and have demonstrated impaired abilities and there is evidence to that fact. So apparently, unless you are a medical marijuana patient, ANY amount of THC in your blood while driving could result in jail time if you are involved in a deadly crash.

If this sounds like a double-standard, you are correct!  The zero tolerance rule in Michigan does tend to favor medical marijuana patients in cases of deadly crashes.  For others who may smoke marijuana once in a while and who have small amounts of residual THC in their system, prison time seems to be the only resolution.  If you live in Michigan, it is best if you give up smoking weed altogether. It could land you in jail even if you did nothing wrong.

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