Martin & Kent, L.L.C. Martin & Kent, L.L.C.

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Police don't have reliable sobriety tests for marijuana

When a police officer in Illinois suspects that a driver is drunk, they can use a few different tests to verify any suspicions. While breath and blood samples are the most scientific measures of alcohol intoxication, field sobriety tests are also believed to be reliable. Proving whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana, on the other hand, is a much greater challenge.

As recreational marijuana becomes legal in many states, police officers still don't have any reliable method to prove that a driver is high. Roadside toxicology tests that show positive results for marijuana cannot distinguish between drivers who smoked within the hour and those who got high within the week. That's because the main inebriating ingredient in marijuana, THC, can still be present in a person's blood for a long time after the drug's effects have worn off.

With no reliable toxicology test to use for marijuana intoxication, many police officers want to use the standard field sobriety test on drivers who they think are stoned. However, the standard field sobriety test has not yet been proven to be reliable for measuring marijuana intoxication. Researchers are now working on new tests that may be better at measuring marijuana intoxication. The new methods measure symptoms that are specific to marijuana intoxication, such as misperception of time, delayed reactions and the inability to perform divided attention tasks.

Because law enforcement officers do not have reliable methods for testing marijuana intoxication, a person who has been accused of driving under the influence of marijuana may be able to build a strong defense against their charges. A criminal defense attorney might help a defendant to argue that evidence obtained from a standard field sobriety test or a roadside toxicology test is not reliable.

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