Hillsboro, OR- It may be legal to smoke marijuana in Oregon, but it’s still illegal to drive stoned. Even so it’s very difficult for police to keep stoned drivers off the road because there is currently no method to test suspected high drivers in the field. But that may soon change as the researchers at the University of Washington are in the initial stages of developing a marijuana breath test to aid law enforcement agencies.
Bloomberg News reported that WSU chemistry professor Herbert Hill and one of his doctoral students are working together to develop a hand-held breath test to detect marijuana use in drivers who are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence.
Currently, Oregon law enforcement agencies must rely on field sobriety test along with urine, saliva or blood tests to determine if a driver is high on marijuana. Bloomberg reported that a 2012 study found that only 30 percent of individuals arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana failed field sobriety tests, which means 70 percent of stoned drivers are able to avoid DUI charges.
They can’t conduct these tests in the field, and because of the slow rate at which the body metabolizes THC—the intoxicating ingredient in marijuana—it is easy for Oregon DUI attorneys to argue their client was not actually high at the time of their arrest. It can be very difficult for prosecutors to prove marijuana impairment. A marijuana breath test, however, can detect marijuana on a person’s breath within a few hours after they have smoked and is still considered to be intoxicated and therefore help law enforcement agencies secure more marijuana-DUI convictions.
“We believe at least initially that it [the marijuana breath test] would lower the false positives that an officer would have,” Hill told the News Tribune. “They would have a higher level of confidence in making an arrest.”
The test in the preliminary stages of development so don’t expect to see them in the field anytime soon, but such tests are getting closer to becoming a reality so stoned drivers be warned.
In Oregon, a person can be charged with driving under the influence of marijuana not matter the THC levels they have in their blood. A DUI in the state, whether it involves alcohol, marijuana or prescription drugs, has the same consequences which can include up to one year in jail, fines of a $1,000 or more and one year suspension of the offender’s driver’s license. Additionally, a conviction will stay on person’s record for up to 10 years and can be used against them if they face an additional DUI or criminal charges in within that time period.
Driving under the influence of any intoxicant is serious under the eyes of the law and offenders may find themselves is deep trouble unless they enlist an experienced Oregon DUI attorney to work on their defense. There are many ways to avoid a conviction or at least minimize the consequences of DUI charges and help person avoid the more devastation penalties.