It’s no secret that law enforcement all over the country relies on (and often times exploits) the use and subsequent results in alcohol breathalyzers for their DUI investigations. However, recent results from studies performed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reveal that the implementation of the marijuana breathalyzer could be on the horizon. NIDA conducted breath assessments of cannabis consumers by having each subject consume one cannabis cigarette, or joint, and then exhale into a breath pad at various periods of time over the following several hours. The results of the breath pad – which can be essentially built into a marijuana breathalyzer – reveal that drivers who smoked marijuana had a detectable level of marijuana in their systems. This detectable level, in the future of drug-related DUI, could be used to pursue driving under the influence of marijuana DUI charges.
Smoking Weed Can Show Up On a Marijuana Breathalyzer
Researchers at NIDA concluded: “Among chronic smokers, all breath samples were positive for THC at 0.89 hours, 76.9 percent at 1.38 hours, and 53.8 percent at 2.38 hours, and only one sample was positive at 4.2 hours after smoking. Among occasional smokers, 90.9 percent of breath samples were THC-positive at 0.95 hours and 63.6 percent at 1.49 hours.” Clearly, THC remained present in the exhaled breath of habitual users for longer periods of time than it did in those who only used occasionally. However, the study didn’t reveal the connection linking the presence of THC on a driver’s breath sample to actual behavioral or psychomotor impairment from marijuana.
Can A Marijuana Breathalyzer’s Efficacy Truly Reveal A Driver’s Level of Intoxication?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) acknowledges: “Toxicology has some important limitations. One limitation is that, with the exception of alcohol, toxicology cannot produce ‘per se’ proof of impairment.” So while it’s possible that marijuana breathalyzer technology may pose certain potential advantages (on the spot, on site) over urine or blood, right now, it is unlikely to provide any direct evidence of whether a person is driving under the influence of marijuana.
While probably a while off, the implementation of marijuana breathalyzers definitely presents a vast array of scientific and procedural issues that your DUI attorney can call into question at your court hearing. If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, whether it’s marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, or prescription drugs, consult a qualified and experienced DUI attorney in your area immediately.