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Criminal Defense From A Former Prosecutor

New device could be a Breathalyzer for cannabis

As more states like California legalize cannabis for recreational and medical use, questions have arisen about driving under the influence of marijuana. It can be very difficult to assess whether a driver is impaired by his or her use of cannabis. The law prohibits anyone from driving who is under the influence of a drug. Unlike in drunk driving cases, however, there is no clear test that indicates an amount of cannabis that would impair a driver. Therefore, the question of who is under the influence is all too often left to police and prosecutors.

Scientists are working to develop a Breathalyzer-type device to measure cannabis consumption through the breath. While the Breathalyzer itself was once controversial in drunk driving cases, it has become a widely accepted mechanism for determining blood alcohol concentration. On the other hand, cannabis intoxication tests so far require blood or urine analysis. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh announced that they have developed a device that can measure the amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in a person's breath. The researchers say that the device could be manufactured industrially in a matter of months.

While the device does perceive THC in breath, it is not clear that it indicates whether a person is under the influence of cannabis in a way that would hinder driving ability. THC levels in breath may not indicate a person's level of intoxication. In addition, there is no evidence that a specific amount of cannabis is more likely to lead to impaired driving and car crashes.

People who are accused of driving under the influence of cannabis may note that they were not impaired at all while driving. A DUI defense attorney can help people facing these types of charges to challenge police evidence and help to protect their rights.

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