Riverside Police chief disagrees with legalizing drivers under the influence of marijuana

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By Community Editor

Courtesy Chief Thomas Weitzel

On Wednesday, May 29, 2013, Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel sent a letter to Governor Patrick Quinn requesting that he veto House Bill 1. This legislation, in Chief Weitzel's opinion, is not in the best interest of Illinois citizens and public safety.

In his letter, Chief Weitzel cites that allowing marijuana cardholders to drive vehicles immediately after smoking marijuana is ridiculous. This provision would put families, children, and Illinois motorists in danger.

The legislation as currently written has language that says standard field sobriety tests to determine if a person is under the influence of cannabis will suffice. The National Traffic Highway Safety specialists stated that the standard field sobriety test itself will not detect cannabis impairment.

In addition, the legislation as written provides no training requirements for doctors. Chief Weitzel stated, "Please ask yourself if you want Illinois motorists driving on highways to be endangered by someone who has just smoked marijuana and cannot be tested for impairment due to existing Illinois law – by a blood and urine test."

The Riverside Police Department has an aggressive DUI enforcement policy and initiative. The Department annually receives grant money through the Illinois Department of Transportation for specialized DUI enforcement. The Chief stated that he has just completed registering one of his top DUI enforcement officers for a drug recognition expert program which will be sponsored by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Many Illinois residents may not know that the DUI law also states driving under the influence of any drug is unlawful. Any amount of a prohibited narcotic in your blood system is unlawful while operating a motor vehicle. With that in mind, Officer Brian Greenenwald of the Riverside Police Department will be one of 60 officers statewide that will be trained as a DRE certified officer. This specialized training will allow the Riverside Police Department to be a leader in drug driving enforcement.

Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel is a member of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Legislative Committee, serves on the Cook County Violence Prevention, Intervention and Reduction Advisory Committee and is past president of the West Suburban Chiefs of Police Association.

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Douglas Martin from Rochester, Indiana  

Posted: October 30th, 2013 8:22 AM

I agree that while driving a person should not be under the influence of any mind altering substances as it clouds judgement. Last winter a Riverside Police Officer was arrested for drunk driving. How many lives did he put in danger? Is he still on the force? Lets hope not.

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