This was originally posted at 9:54 a.m., updated with a response from the city attorney's office, and moved up the blog stream.
The Seattle City Council is considering legislation to create municipal marijuana DUI misdemeanors. According to the city's law department, the move is being sought primarily so the city can capture the revenue from potential pot law violations.
"[For] crime prosecuted under state law in municipal court, any fine revenue goes to the county rather than us," Assistant City Attorney Richard Greene told a public safety committee meeting on Wednesday.
Council Bill 117918 would add a marijuana boating DUI to Seattle's criminal code. While similar to a state law passed by the legislature earlier this year, which sets a legal limit of 5 nanograms THC in a boater's bloodstream, the city proposal also says any amount of THC in the bloodstream can be evidence of a boating DUI.
Council Bill 11719 adds a marijuana DUI for drivers based on the language in voter-enacted Initiative 502, including the language that any amount of THC may be used as evidence of impairment. Both bills unanimously cleared the public safety committee and are headed to the full council for consideration.
UPDATE 1:24 PM: The Seattle City Attorney's Office tells me this is a routine annual update to city's criminal code to mirror recently-enacted state laws. "If we didn’t update our law, we wouldn’t be able to bring the charges," says spokesman John Schochet, referring to the case Auburn v. Gauntt in which a pot smoker successfully defended against municipal pot charges. "If we don’t bring the charges, we can get into a whole legal mess that can be expensive."
Will the change lead to more pot DUI arrests in Seattle? "Any case where we have a positive blood test for 5 nanograms or more active THC is a case we almost certainly would’ve charged before," Schochet tells me. "I dont think this is going to lead to a significant change in the number of cases we bring."
Schochet acknowledges that the city proposal goes further than state law in regard to its boating DUI provisions, modeling them on the state driving DUI rather than the state boating DUI. "There’s a principle of uniformity for traffic laws statewide. Boating laws don’t have the same preemption," says Schochet "That’s why our office has proposed adding that provision."