You’ve probably heard about the
breathalyzer test, which tests your breath for the presence of alcohol, but now a similar
device is being tested to see if it can accurately detect the presence of
marijuana in a driver’s system.
Currently, the Washington State Patrol is testing a technology that could
help troopers during traffic stops determine if a driver is under the
influence of marijuana. This device is similar to the breathalyzer that
officers use to test how much alcohol is in a driver’s system.
This is not the first research of its kind; right now similar devices are
being tested around the country to see how well they can detect the presence
of THC in weed.
Officials are hopeful that these devices can help confirm officers’
observations. The idea is that when an officer believes that someone is
impaired, a test that could support the officer’s observations would
be helpful in establishing
probable cause to make an arrest.
Other States Are Testing the Devices
Lt. Rob Sharpe, the impaired driving section commander for WSP, said that
other states are testing the devices. Noting that the tests range from
oral fluid testing, to eye movement testing, and transdermal testing.
At this point in time, the officers from the WSP rely on their extensive
classroom training to determine whether a driver is under the influence
“Right now we’re using standardized
field sobriety tests so we will ask the driver to come out of the vehicle, ask them to do a
voluntary test and will put that driver through a battery of tests we
use right now,” said Chris Thorson, one of the WSP’s troopers.
However, if a trooper wants to make a DUI arrest, they have to get a warrant
so the suspect’s blood can be drawn.
In Washington, a driver is considered to be impaired by marijuana when
they have five or more nanogramsof THC in their system, which is very
little, and drivers can be arrested for even less than that in the state.
The WSP is waiting for these devices to be proven reliable and accurate
because Lt. Sharpe says that they cannot afford to have any false negative
or positive test results.
These devices have already been tested by more than 150 state troopers
in Colorado, so only time will tell if they will prove to be effective
at detecting THC.
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