Lawmakers may update field sobriety tests for marijuana detection

In New York, it is illegal to drive when one's blood-alcohol content is .08 percent or higher, and this can result in drunk driving charges. When marijuana is involved, however, there is no legally allowable amount. If any marijuana is detected in the bloodstream or urine at all, a driver may face consequences for driving while ability impaired. This is very problematic, because it is possible for traces of marijuana to remain detectable in a person's blood or urine days after the person smoked it.

This means that New Yorkers can end up facing consequences for DWAI-drugs, when, in fact, they were not driving while impaired whatsoever.

Recently, several states have legalized recreational marijuana use, which has prompted some lawmakers to consider better ways to conduct marijuana-related field sobriety tests. One option is a THC breath test.

THC is the ingredient in marijuana that causes the high effect, and this is also the ingredient that is considered to impair driving ability. A study that was recently published in a medical journal indicates that it is possible for a breath test to determine the presence of THC; currently, these tests can detect THC only up to two hours after a person has smoked marijuana. Depending on a number of factors, the effects of marijuana may last three to four hours, according to that study.

Whether marijuana-breath tests will ever replace blood tests here in New York remains to be seen. For now, those who face drug-related DWAI charges should seek legal counsel. A conviction for a DWAI can result in the loss of one's driver's license, the loss of insurance, fines and even jail time.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Alternative To Controversial Blood Test For Pot DUIs," Matt Ferner, Oct. 22, 2013

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