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How Do Police Test for Marijuana Intoxication?

Most drivers know that they can be arrested and charged with a crime if they get behind the wheel after having a few too many drinks. However, the law doesn’t specify that you must be intoxicated by alcohol, and in fact it also applies to drugs including marijuana. However, the breathalyzer, the most reliable and fastest way to determine blood alcohol content levels, is useless when trying to determine THC concentration in the bloodstream. When this is the case, how do law enforcement test for intoxication in order to bring a case against someone in court?

Other Chemical Tests

Most people know of the breath test, but authorities are also allowed to use two other types of tests in order to check for intoxicants in your blood: a urine test, or drawing a blood sample. If both of these tests are available as an option at a given time, the suspect will be given the choice of which of these tests they would prefer. If one isn’t available, you’ll be forced to use the other. Under Pennsylvania law, THC concentration levels above one nanogram per milliliter is legally considered to be driving under the influence and subject to added penalties.

Just like with an alcohol-related DUI arrest, you are required to take a chemical test after you are arrested under Pennsylvania’s “implied consent law.” Failing to subject yourself to one of these tests will subject you to additional penalties, including an increased license suspension. Furthermore, you’re not allowed to consult with an attorney before deciding whether or not you wish to take the chemical test, and officers can use your refusal to take a chemical test against you as evidence of your intoxication.

Establishing Probable Cause

But what about making the arrest in the first place? Is the process any different? To a certain extent, yes. Marijuana and alcohol affect your system differently, and thus someone who is high will show different symptoms and signs of intoxication compared to someone who is drunk. However, in many cases neither one will be able to complete multiple field sobriety tests that are properly administered.

Furthermore, there are other physical signs of intoxication which officers can use to further increase their suspicion in establishing probable cause. For example, bloodshot eyes, drooping eyelids, and slow, slurred speech are all indicators of marijuana intoxication which officers can use to confirm their suspicion and make an arrest.

If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced Scranton drug crimes attorney for counsel and representation assistance.

Call the Law Offices of William D. Thompson today at (570) 666-1068 to request a case evaluation.
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