Everyone knows you shouldn’t drink and drive, but some people still think it’s OK to smoke marijuana and get behind the wheel. With some states legalizing the drug, drugged driving is becoming a big problem all across North America. A few entrepreneurs are taking steps to get a handle on drugged driving across Canada and the United States by developing a marijuana-detecting breathalyzer.
Although all 50 states have some form of drugged driving law, there isn’t a common consensus on how much is too much for driving. Unlike the hard and fast rule of .08 for drinking and driving, without a roadside breathalyzer, the amount of drug in a driver’s system tends to be harder to quantify. Law enforcement currently rely on roadside sobriety tests to check for drugged driving,
To obtain a conviction for drugged driving, most states use a ‘per se’ type of law, meaning that if any detectable amount of controlled substance like marijuana is found in the driver’s bodily fluids, that driver can be charged with a drugged driving violation. In states where marijuana is legal, the laws get a little more specific. Colorado’s drugged driving laws state that when THC is in the driver’s blood in quantities of 5ng/ml or higher, law enforcement can infer that the person is under the influence.
Random roadside saliva tests for marijuana use is being used in parts of Europe and Australia, but the concern using saliva testing in the United States is that it can be construed as infringing on the driver’s civil liberties and that the test itself isn’t accurate. A recent provision in a Michigan bill would have allowed law enforcement to use roadside saliva tests, but it was removed until research shows the tests work for all drugs.
The roadside marijuana breathalzyer currently being developed is called the Cannabix Breathalyzer, and it will work in as little as a few minutes. Information obtained from the breathalyzer will allow the officers to know immediately if the person driving has consumed marijuana in the past two or three hours, and may be able to assist in obtaining a conviction for drugged driving.
Tests are currently on-going for the new breathalyzer device, and although there may be opposition to how accurate the device is, it may hit the market as quickly as later this year.