The Oklahoma Legislature recently approved funds for the Department of Transportation to use for marijuana breath testing. The proposed pilot program would equip police officers with this new technology that can determine if a person used marijuana in the past couple of hours. Like alcohol Breathalyzer tests performed roadside, these marijuana tests would be much quicker than current options.
The problems with marijuana and DUI
Beyond field sobriety testing, there is little way to determine if someone is currently high on marijuana. Blood, hair and urine tests take time to complete. The problem with that is that THC, the main component in marijuana that gives the high feeling, can be detected in these tests for days and even weeks later. So, it can be difficult to determine if the person was using marijuana at the time the officer pulled them over of if they used it a day or more ago.
The real issue with using these types of testing is that people who legally use medical marijuana are at risk for an erroneous DUI arrest. With THC in their system for days after use, any recent test will give a positive result.
Can marijuana breath tests work?
The pilot program is ultimately a test to determine if this type of drug screening will work. Results during the pilot program are not allowed in court, nor will they be used in a punitive way. Additionally, participation should be voluntary. The officers will simply be gathering data to see if marijuana breath machines actually work.
It could mean fewer false DUI arrest for those who use medical marijuana because these tests take place roadside. Most of these DUI arrests are made on assumption before testing is conducted. In some cases, it may be necessary to consult with a DUI defense attorney.