Estranged wife says state Rep. Roger Goodman drove stoned
February 27, 2013
By Caleb Heeringa
In his six years in the Washington State House, 45th District Rep. Roger Goodman (D), has made a name for himself toughening driving under the influence laws, even winning a “legislator of the year” award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
But in documents submitted in Goodman’s ongoing divorce from his wife of 16 years, Liv Grohn, and in interviews, Goodman seems to admit to driving after using marijuana. These allegations concern a time period when even possession of marijuana was illegal.
In an Oct. 4 court filing, Grohn accuses Goodman of acting “with willful disregard for our children’s safety by repeatedly driving them while stoned.”
The filing recounts a June 2011 incident in which the couple prepared to take their two young children swimming at the beach. Grohn’s statement, made under penalty of perjury, says she came outside to find their children buckled into the vehicle, but Goodman was nowhere to be found. Goodman then came from the side of the couple’s Kirkland home “reeking of marijuana,” Grohn states.
Grohn alleges that Goodman admitted that he had “repeatedly and purposefully gotten stoned by the side of the house before driving the children” and balked at her request that he take a drug test before being allowed to have their children in the car, saying it violated his civil liberties.
Grohn forbade Goodman from driving their children, up until she filed for divorce in October 2012.
Goodman denies most of the allegations Grohn makes in her court filings.
In emails between Grohn and Goodman filed with the court, the legislator – who has also been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization – seemingly admits to having driven while stoned in the past but claims that he is no longer smoking marijuana.
“As to my driving the kids, I understand that you cannot trust me at this time, despite the objective evidence,” Goodman wrote in a Sept. 7 email to Grohn. “I understand how my past behavior and my past deceptive statements before I quit the habit continue to give you pause.”
In an interview, Goodman said the “past behavior” he referred to was his “use of a substance my wife disapproved of” and was not related to driving.
Goodman also accused Grohn of talking on a cell phone while driving, which he says is much more dangerous than impaired driving.
“What is legal or illegal should be less of a concern than what is clearly demonstrated to be more dangerous,” Goodman wrote in the email in court documents. “If you continue to drive the kids while talking on the phone, it seems unfair and hypocritical to me.”
In an emailed statement to the Review, Goodman, who won a Safety Champion Award from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, states that he “is not perfect” regarding drug use but denies having ever been too intoxicated to drive or to have driven his children while high.
“I think most people would say they’ve done the equivalent of having a glass of wine at a dinner party and still driven home,” he wrote in the email.
Goodman is chairman of the House Public Safety Committee, which has oversight of laws involving impaired driving.
Initiative 502 set the legal limit for driving at 5 nanograms per mililiter of active THC — the substance in marijuana that makes people high. However, Goodman and others have questioned the scientific basis for that amount, and the tie between THC in the blood and actual impairment behind the wheel.
According to the NHTSA, smokers often show THC levels upwards of 100 nanograms immediately after consuming marijuana and THC levels generally drop below 5 nanograms about three hours after smoking. The agency notes that those estimates vary based on the potency of the marijuana and the way it is used.
Goodman denies having ever driven within three hours after using marijuana.
Goodman notes that he’s never been stopped or arrested for driving under the influence and says that as part of the divorce, he has submitted to a substance abuse screening and drug test. Goodman said the tests have come back clean.
Reporter Caleb Heeringa can be reached at 392-6434. ext. 247, or firstname.lastname@example.org.