New device could detect marijuana impairment among drivers

Researchers are currently working on a device that would allow law enforcement officials to easily test drivers for marijuana impairment.

In Arizona, according to the Arizona Legislature, it is illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle while under the influence of any drug, liquor or vapor that renders them impaired to the slightest degree. Although law enforcement officials often use breath tests to determine if drivers are guilty of committing a criminal traffic offense related to drinking and driving, there are no tests like these that can detect the presence of marijuana in a person's system. Currently, according to NBC News, law enforcement officials must conduct a blood or urine test to determine if a driver has THC, the main ingredient in marijuana, in his or her system.

However, researchers at Washington State University are working on a device that would test for marijuana and is comparable to the devices law enforcement officials use to determine a person's blood alcohol concentration level. According to USA Today, this marijuana breath test device will likely be unable to provide an accurate measurement of how much THC is in a driver's body. Nevertheless, it will still allow law enforcement officials to try to establish probable cause to tell if some level of THC is present in a person's system.

The device's future

NBC News states that this device incorporates similar technology to the devices that are used in airports by security officials to detect the presence of drugs or explosives. Once the researchers working on this device finish up lab tests, USA Today states that this detection device will be tested on human breath. At the conclusion of this process, this device will eventually be tested in the field.

Drugged driving arrests are on the rise

The development of this device comes at a time when an increasing number of drivers are arrested for operating vehicles under the influence of a controlled substances and face the potential consequences of a drug-related DUI charge. According to two separate reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are fewer drivers allegedly impaired by alcohol operating vehicles today. However, the prevalence of arrests of drivers under the influence of prescription drugs and marijuana has increased.

In 2007, the average number of drivers arrested with drugs in their system on a weekend night was 16.3 percent. By 2014, this figure increased to 20 percent of weekend nighttime drivers. Additionally, the number of drivers arrested for operating a vehicle with marijuana in their system increased by nearly 50 percent during this time period.

Turn to an attorney

Those who are arrested for driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs in Arizona face serious penalties, which include jail time, license loss, and heavy fines. If you were recently arrested for drugged driving, reach out to an attorney in your area to determine what legal steps you should take next.

Keywords: DUI, drugged driving, arrest, penalties