Marijuana DUI Testing Methods
California voters passing Proposition 64 in 2016 to legalize recreational use of marijuana. The exact laws of how it will be sold are still being written but recreation use is set to take place by 2018. Law enforcement authorities are more worried than ever that a huge amount of the population will be driving under the influence of marijuana and this will drastically raise the injuries on the road. It’s true that the intoxicating chemical in marijuana, THC, can impair your abilities and no one should drive under the influence of any substance that would cause them to be impaired. The problem with marijuana versus alcohol is in the testing methods that the police will employ. Marijuana can not be detected by a breathalyzer and a blood or urine test will reveal a positive result if the user has taken the drug in the last 30-60 days. The effects of marijuana do not last longer than a few hours to up a full day.
The field sobriety tests are a somewhat useful method to assess a driver’s ability to be on the road. These methods include the police officer requesting the driver to recite the alphabet in reverse, stand on one-leg, or focus on the officer’s finger as he moves it in a horizontal line across the driver’s face. All of these tests are rated 65-75% accurate by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. This includes no chemical tests and might not hold up well as evidence in court if your attorney is able to argue against them well. Marijuana has the well-known effect of making the user’s sclera, which is the whites of the eye, appear red but this can be solved easily by the user applying eye drops. Also, all of these tests, including visible red sclera, can just be the result of fatigue.
The new chemical method for testing drug use is called the saliva swab test. It takes approximately 10 minutes to administer and checks for trace amounts of THC and other illegal and prescription drugs potentially in the driver’s bloodstream. The test is either positive or negative so any positive results would be cause for a DUI. The tests are not very effective as they can show false positives for something as simple as sugar. Marijuana use can still show a positive result with the saliva swab test up to three days after the user takes the drug.
You do not have to submit to a field sobriety or chemical test and can state you will not provide any further statements until your attorney is present. The police may not search your vehicle without your expressed permission or without probable cause. If you travel with marijuana you purchased from a store, it is advisable to keep it out of sight along with any smoking devices. Since the law has opened the market to the sale of several edible and other non-smokable variations, the police may look for other reasons to cite a probable cause. Know your rights and be careful on the road. DUI checkpoints are meant to help public safety matters, but there are also times when an innocent person is suspected without cause and has their rights have been violated.