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Washington State University Developing Marijuana Breath Test

Washington State University researchers are in the process of developing a breath test that could allow law enforcement to determine if drivers are under the influence of marijuana. Current testing for drivers pulled over for marijuana DUI involves a field sobriety test that gages impairment and a blood test that can show the presence of THC. However, current testing capabilities are limited, as a person's blood can show THC for weeks, and doesn't provide the clearest or most accurate indication that a driver is high when behind the wheel.

Should I be worried about new THC testing?

Researchers are pulling from existing technology currently in use by the Transportation and Security Administration to detect drugs or explosives in real time. They believe this technology can be altered to detect THC on a person's breath. The device being developed will be handheld and use ion mobility spectrometry to detect THC. This technique involves the separation and identity of ionized gas molecules based on their mobility in a standardized gas. The gas can be separated and determined in tens of milliseconds in current technology.

The device will be tested on human breath starting in the first half of 2015. Since marijuana was legalized in Washington in 2012, law enforcement has attempted to keep drivers impaired by marijuana off of the roads. They have had an even more difficult time of finding an accurate and effective testing method.

If researchers are successful in developing this tool, it is possible that California police will adopt this mechanism to determine impairment of drivers suspected of marijuana DUI. While California currently does not have a concrete number to determine THC impairment, Washington's legal limit for impairment is set at 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood. There is a chance that THC impairment, such as BAC testing, may become a uniform standard in states with legal or medical use of marijuana.

Driving under the influence of any substance that may cause impairment is illegal in California, but determining the level of impairment a driver may have is difficult. If you or a loved one has been accused of driving under the influence of marijuana or another substance in California, you will need legal representation from the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. to protect your rights.