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Is a Marijuana Breathalyzer Coming?

Updated: Jul 1, 2024 @ 2:00 am

Less than 1 minute Reading Time: Minutes

When police suspect a motorist is intoxicated, they typically ask them to take a breathalyzer, which is a roadside test. The breathalyzer is convenient and allows officers a quick read on whether the driver has too much alcohol in their system. By contrast, if the officers suspect the driver is under the influence of drugs, they need to request a urine or blood sample and might even need to get a warrant. This is a cumbersome process, which makes it harder for police to catch drugged drivers.

A dream for many police departments is a marijuana breathalyzer. This device would measure the level of THC (the psychoactive substance in marijuana) in a person’s breath. Is this just a pipe dream, or is a marijuana breath test on the horizon? Our drug impaired driving lawyer investigates.

Challenges with Showing Recent Marijuana Usage

According to USA Today, ElectraTect, a Phoenix-based company, is busy at work creating a marijuana breath test to detect consumption of THC. Interest in such a device is high around the country. Many states and cities have decriminalized marijuana usage, so the number of potentially high drivers has jumped. In Texas, marijuana is legal for medical purposes, and some counties have chosen to not pursue criminal charges if the suspect had a small amount of marijuana in their possession.

Decriminalization should lead to more widespread use. Unfortunately, that means more people will jump behind the wheel of a car with THC in their system.

Marijuana and keys

There are problems with current tests. For one, THC concentrations spike soon after consumption before dispersing to other parts of the body. This means the THC level in blood might be low when police finally get a warrant for a blood draw, even though the driver is impaired.

Another problem is timing. Police might wait days to get back results from a blood or urine test. That means that defendants might remain in jail, only to be released later if their test comes back clean. With a marijuana breathalyzer, by contrast, police would know instantly a driver’s THC levels.

In sum, both the police and marijuana users could benefit from a breath test which measures THC levels soon after consumption. The police could catch more people who have committed DWI, and motorists who aren’t guilty can be on their way.

Founded in 2020, ElectraTect is not the only company trying to innovate in this field. According to USA Today, Houn Labs in California and Cannabix Technologies in Canada have both been developing marijuana breathalyzers. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for them to be mass produced and tested for reliability.

Defend Yourself from Drugged Driving Charges

While a roadside marijuana test remains elusive, anyone accused of a marijuana DUI should use the existing technology to their advantage. As mentioned above, marijuana levels can subside rapidly. That means your test results could come back showing a very low level of THC—or none at all. That’s great news if you took a couple pulls off a joint. You can deny ever having done drugs.

Under Texas law, of course, any amount of a controlled substance can lead to a DWI conviction if you do not have normal control of your faculties. But the police need to show your faculties were impaired. That’s easier said than done. Is driving slowly a sign of impairment or simply a sign of careful driving? Drifting over the center line very briefly?

In many cases, the only evidence the state has is the arresting officer’s testimony that you were all over the road, and possibly your own admission that you consumed marijuana recently. Ideally you will say nothing before or after arrest.

Our firm has fought many drugged DWI cases successfully. We can submit countervailing evidence, such as testimony from your own witnesses that you were driving carefully.

We might also frontally attack the stop itself. If the officer lacked probable cause to throw on the lights and stop you, then we can ask a judge to dismiss the criminal charges for violating your constitutional rights.

Facing DUI Charges Following An Arrest?

Tad Nelson & Associates Fight Drug-Associated DWI Cases.

Texas DWI Defense Lawyer Tad Nelson

As marijuana usage increases, Texas will continue to crack down on drugged driving. You should hire the best defense attorney to defend you from criminal charges because you are facing several months in jail.

Call Tad Nelson. We have set the pace in Texas on DWI defense, including defending those accused of marijuana DWI. Attorney Nelson is a Board-Certified criminal defense attorney in Texas, who is available to meet for a free consultation.

Houston DWI Lawyer Tad A Nelson is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the TBLS.

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