The legalization of marijuana is changing the US. While some of those changes are for the better, some are for the worse. Legalized marijuana means that there are more people driving under the influence of marijuana. However, the police are having a hard time issuing DUIs for marijuana use. There is no standard roadside testing, which makes it difficult to charge someone with a marijuana DUI. Find out how the police test for marijuana and why the test is not effective.
How Does Marijuana DUI Testing Work?
Most people know how drunk driving testing occurs. After all, the police have been using breathalyzers for decades. If an officer pulls you over, he can pull out a breathalyzer and ask you to blow. Then, he can use the value from the breathalyzer to determine if you are over the legal limit. He can testify to your BAC in court to convince a judge to convict you or drunk driving. A breathalyzer uses simple science, and it’s effective.
Unfortunately, marijuana DUI testing isn’t quite so easy. There are many challenges to testing for marijuana. While alcohol stays in your blood, marijuana does not. It works in your brain and is very difficult to measure. On the federal level, marijuana is illegal. For that reason, researchers have not looked into many ways to measure marijuana levels. Even if they could accurately do that, scientists can’t agree on the level of impairment. There is no specific amount of marijuana that makes all marijuana users impaired to drive. Instead, it seems that the substance affects people in different ways.
Another reason for the difficulty in marijuana DUI testing is the metabolization of the drug. When you drink, alcohol hits your system at about the same time as any other individual. However, marijuana comes in many forms. If you eat a marijuana cookie, it will take longer to metabolize than smoking a joint. You might drive immediately after your cookie and still be sober. However, a marijuana test could show that you have marijuana in your system. You could get a DUI, even though you are sober.
Currently, there is no specific protocol to measure marijuana in a driver. One test uses Carboxy THC to determine your sobriety. However, researchers only chose Carboxy THC because it was the most prevalent compound in marijuana. It turns out that being abundant doesn’t make it a good choice for testing. After more research, it seems that there is no link between Carboxy THC and your impairment. When you have a high level of Carboxy THC, you could still be sober. In fact, you might not have used marijuana for weeks and test positive for Carboxy THC. It’s a highly ineffective test.
In Colorado, police officers use a different marijuana DUI roadside test. Accused drivers take a THC blood test. Then, the test shows your level of delta-9-THC. If you have more than five nanograms of delta-9-THC in Colorado, then you could face DUI charges.
Unfortunately, Colorado’s marijuana testing method is not accurate. You could have over five nanograms of delta-9-THC in your system and still be sober. In some individuals, a lower value could indicate impairment. The test is not very accurate and may not determine if an individual is impaired.
What It Means for Marijuana DUIs
There is no accurate DUI test. However, impaired driving due to marijuana use is a problem. In many states with legal recreational marijuana, there has been an increase in DUI accidents since the legalization of marijuana. Without an accurate way to test for marijuana, those states will continue to have issues with DUIs.
Today, the police have to guess whether or not a driver shows signs of marijuana impairment. Their observations may or may not hold up in court. As a result, a marijuana DUI is a complex issue. Some states, like Rhode Island, make it illegal to drive with any marijuana in your system. However, other states rely on police testimony. It can be difficult to know what outcome to expect for your marijuana DUI.
If you face charges for this type of DUI, then you might be able to fight the charges. Because it is new territory, there are more ways for lawyers to fight the charges. If you take marijuana legally for medical reasons, then Rhode Island cannot prosecute you. But having an illegal controlled substance in your blood comes with fines, community service, and the possibility of imprisonment. On top of that, you could lose your license for as much as 180 days.
When you face charges for a marijuana DUI, you need the help of a lawyer. By using an effective defense strategy, your lawyer can get you a great outcome. You could end up with no consequences, or with a minimal penalty. It all depends on your situation and the effectiveness of your lawyer.