Drunk driving traffic stops could soon include cannabis tests

| Apr 14, 2020 |

If a driver is stopped by law enforcement investigating driving under the influence in Parker County, there may be a breathalyzer test to determine the blood-alcohol concentration. However, drivers who have used cannabis can also be charged with DWI. Currently, there is no roadside testing procedure to check if a driver has used cannabis. That may change soon.

It was recently reported that scientists are advancing in creating tests that will use saliva to determine the level of cannabis in a person’s body. This could be a critical factor in a DWI investigation as drivers who register as having used cannabis can face charges and penalties if they are convicted. Researchers assert that using cannabis has several of the same negative effects on a person’s reaction time, judgment and ability to drive safely as alcohol does.

The compound in marijuana – THC – that results in its intoxicating effect is still being studied to establish a range where a driver would be viewed as impaired. Currently, a blood test is needed to gauge the amount of THC in a person’s body and that takes time. Researchers are working on a roadside test with a device like a breathalyzer for THC. Breath tests may not yield accurate THC results. A saliva test is believed to be comparable to blood tests for accurate measurements.

The device researchers from the University of Texas used was found to be accurate within certain ranges. It also takes under five minutes to complete. It may not be long before drivers who are stopped on suspicion of DWI face a cannabis test for THC just like they would a breathalyzer test to see how much alcohol they have consumed. Lodging a defense against these charges can be complicated. Just like breathalyzer tests, there will be procedures the officer must follow. If there are issues with the test or the way it was conducted, this can be the foundation for a defense. Having a legal professional experienced in drunk driving cases and other types of DWI may be imperative to combat the charges.