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Ann Arbor Marijuana Driver Impairment Tests

021208540-young-beautiful-brunette-insid.jpegWith the passage of laws allowing the recreational use of marijuana in several states, special interest groups are raising concerns about the potential dangers associated with people driving under the influence of marijuana. State legislatures and local law enforcement agencies are researching new technologies to detect a driver's marijuana impairment at the roadside.

Traditional blood and urine tests can detect marijuana in a person's bloodstream weeks after usage. However, it difficult for law enforcement to determine whether a person consumed marijuana in the immediate hours prior to driving. So, how do police officers determine if a person is driving under the influence of THC?

Most officers are trained to administer field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests consist of a series of physical and mental exercises administered by the police officer to test a driver's impairment. The tests include the horizontal nystagmus, one leg stand, finger to nose, and the walk and turn. Extensive research has concluded that these tests are fairly accurate in detecting whether a driver is impaired by alcohol. However, these field sobriety tests are not as useful for determining whether a driver is impaired by marijuana or other drugs.

If a driver fails a field sobriety test, a police officer will have probable cause to arrest the driver and take him/her down to the police station for a breath, blood, or urine sample. As mentioned above, blood and urine tests are not fairly accurate in determining whether a driver recently used marijuana.

Law enforcement agencies have begun using drug swabs at the scene to test for THC and other drugs such as cocaine, crystal meth, and other prescription medications. Mouth swab test results have been conflicting. This is because trace amounts of drugs can reside in a person's mouth for up to three days after usage. In addition, because THC rapidly clears out of the blood within a few hours for occasional users, a person can still "feel high" while having only trace amounts of THC in their system. This means a lab test will find a trace amount of THC in a driver's blood or urine. THC levels are even harder to detect when a person ingests marijuana.

Daily marijuana users can have THC in their system for weeks or months depending on their percentage of body fat. Because of the challenges associated with testing for marijuana impairment, law enforcement agencies have recommended drivers refrain from smoking hours before getting behind the wheel.

If you or a loved one has recently been charged for driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs in Washtenaw County, contact my law office for a free, initial phone consultation and legal representation. I can review your case and provide you with legal advice and guidance on how to best proceed. Marijuana impairment cases can be hard to prove. I may be able to have the charge asserted against you reduced or completely dismissed.

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