Police use relatively simple tests to determine whether or not to charge someone with a DUI in Los Angeles. If a motorist’s blood alcohol content measures higher than .08 percent on a breathalyzer or blood test, that person will likely soon be visiting a local detention center.
But police face more challenging obstacles when it comes to determining whether someone has been driving under the influence of marijuana. According to a recent Fox News report, the way that humans metabolize pot makes it difficult to determine when and how driving impairment occurs. Unlike alcohol, which disappears from the bloodstream after a certain number of hours, the active ingredient in pot—tetrahydrocannabinol or THC—can linger in the bloodstream for days.
Colorado and the State of Washington have dealt with this problem by setting a level of five nanograms of THC per liter of whole blood as the threshold for driving under the influence. (Illinois may be increasing that measurement considerably; the state legislature has passed a bill raising the level of impairment to 15 nanograms.) So far, the testing process has involved measuring blood, urine or saliva samples, but one company, Cabbabix Technologies, may be changing the game. Cabbabix has created a prototype of a pot breathalyzer, according to Fox.
Law enforcement must also reconcile with the fact that no one really understands how pot affects driving. The Fox News report said researchers identified conflicting results in studies on the subject; some studies suggest that marijuana use has little to no impact on how likely someone is to get into a crash. Others suggest that drivers who use pot run a higher likelihood of getting into accidents.
Legislators in each state will need to discuss this question in more depth, as more and more states legalize the use of marijuana.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the number of motorists driving under the influence of pot has risen 50 percent since 2007.
Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer, Michael Kraut, of the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers is standing by to offer critical insight into your case and potential defense options. Call him and his team today to begin regaining control over your case and your life.