Feds Try to Determine When Drivers are Too High to Drive

With recreational marijuana now legal in Washington and Colorado, law enforcement agencies and lawmakers across the country are looking closely at how police in these states are enforcing marijuana DUI laws. As we've discussed in previous blogs, marijuana DUIs have stirred up considerable controversy and numerous questions, the most important of which asks: when is a driver too high to drive?

In an attempt to better answer this question, federal regulators and scientists have been conducting a three-year study on how marijuana, and the combination of marijuana and alcohol, affects drivers. The study – considered the most comprehensive study on marijuana and driving to date – required a group of volunteers to use the federally funded University of Iowa's National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS). The NADS is an advanced driving simulator that accurately replicates a number of driving situations, including everything from parking lots and gravel roads to swerving drivers and unexpected deer jumping into roads.

Before using the simulator, volunteers would consume a certain amount of marijuana, alcohol and marijuana, or a placebo. Volunteers would also submit saliva and blood samples to test their level of intoxication. According to a recent piece published in USA Today, the study officially concluded this past spring. Federal scientists are now analyzing data to determine how various levels of intoxication affect driving abilities. Data from the study is expected to be released in October.

According to federal researchers, the study uses the same type of testing strategy used to determine legal limits for driving under the influence of alcohol. The data will assist lawmakers in determining what a fair legal limit should be for marijuana DUIs. Currently, the legal limit used in Washington and Colorado is 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Advocates have stated that this limit is too low and that it can criminalize marijuana users who are able to drive safely at this level.

As researchers continue to analyze the data, law enforcement officers are still continuing their efforts to enforce marijuana DUI laws, including those in California. Law enforcement agencies are already exploring various ways to enforce the law by using drug recognition experts, field saliva tests, and blood draws. Many experts, advocates, and lawmakers still remain unsure of when drivers can actually be considered too high on marijuana to drive.

While America waits on the results of this study, many motorists are still being arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana. Due to the complicated nature of these cases, however, anyone charged for marijuana DUI should be intent on working with experienced attorneys who can defend their rights, freedoms, and futures.

If you or someone you love has been arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, an Orange County DUI lawyer at the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc., is prepared to review your case. To learn more, call (949) 537-2202 today.

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