Field sobriety tests for marijuana impairment aren’t here yet

| Jan 11, 2018 | Field Sobriety Tests

As marijuana is increasingly legalized for medicinal and recreational use around the country, law enforcement agencies are struggling to find methods to show that a person has been driving under the influence of the drug.

Attorneys have argued for and against the reliability of field sobriety tests as evidence that a driver is stoned. Since there is not yet a roadside toxicology test comparable to a Breathalyzer to test for marijuana, the admissibility of these other tests is a source of dispute.

Even blood tests don’t reliably indicate whether someone was too stoned to drive. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, can stay in a person’s bloodstream long after the effects have worn off.

One police chief notes that “police officers know when something is off. It’s usually quite obvious. So if they take away the ability to do a field sobriety test, I don’t know what the police officer on the street is supposed to do.”

Researchers are working on tests that police can administer in the field to test whether a driver is under the influence of drugs. One is an app that can indicate impairment to a driver’s reflexes as well as balance via a test administered on a tablet.

However, the professor who invented the app acknowledges that this and any similar roadside tests of impairment will need to be accompanied by reliable biological tests that are able to measure the level of a driver’s impairment by marijuana or other drugs. Otherwise, they can be effectively challenged in court.

If you or a loved one is facing charges of driving under the influence of marijuana, an experienced Maryland attorney who can protect your rights and work to challenge the evidence can provide guidance.

Source: National Public Radio, “Can Sobriety Tests Weed Out Drivers Who’ve Smoked Too Much Weed?,” Tovia Smith, accessed Jan. 09, 2018

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