Covelo man convicted of pot DUI
A Covelo man has been found guilty of driving under the influence of marijuana during a trial made rare by the difficulties of proving pot intoxication.
“This is the first one that’s gone to trial (in Mendocino County) in at least five years,” said county Deputy District Attorney Brian Newman.
Lawrence Nye Jr., 28, was sentenced to 15 days in the county jail, five years of probation and ordered to pay a fine of $2,410 after his conviction Tuesday, Newman said. Nye’s driver’s license was suspended for two years. Nye’s sentence was enhanced because of a previous conviction, Newman said.
Newman said Nye was so intoxicated, he initially was oblivious to attempts by the CHP to pull over his vehicle.
Driving under the influence of marijuana is more difficult to prove than driving under the influence of alcohol, he said.
With alcohol, a person can be convicted solely because their blood alcohol level is 0.08 or higher, Newman said.
There is no test that correlates the amount of marijuana in a person’s system with intoxication level, he said. Instead, pot intoxication must be demonstrated during field sobriety tests. As a result, most such cases never go to trial, Newman said.
Trials for driving under the influence of marijuana also are relatively infrequent in Lake and Sonoma counties, officials said.
“We don’t get that many to trial,” said Diana Gomez, Sonoma County assistant district attorney.
But there was one recently in Sonoma County and it made the difference between a felony and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter conviction for a 28-year-old Windsor man.
By GLENDA ANDERSON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Friday, January 15, 2010 at 6:41 p.m.
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