Although driving under the influence of a controlled substance has long been part of many state’s DUI laws, the legalization of medicinal and/or recreational use of marijuana in various parts of the country has brought about new questions. Specifically, people are wondering what the legal limit of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is and how law enforcement tests for it.
The State’s Legal Limits
In Pennsylvania, where recreational consumption of marijuana is not legal, but medicinal use is, the THC threshold is 1 nanogram per milliliter. However, a person can get a marijuana DUI if an officer believes the amount of the substance in their system has impaired their ability to safely operate the vehicle. This rule applies regardless of whether the person consumed marijuana for recreational or medical purposes.
Alcohol Breathalyzers Ineffective at Measuring THC
When a police officer pulls over a person on suspicion of drunk driving, they can administer a breathalyzer test on the spot to determine the level of alcohol in the individual’s system. Based on the results, they could make an arrest.
The instruments used for alcohol testing cannot be used to detect the level of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, in a person’s system. Determining whether or not someone was driving while under the influence of marijuana required calling in a drug expert to look for signs of controlled substance use. If the driver exhibited behaviors consistent with being on marijuana, the officers could then obtain a warrant to conduct further chemical tests.
Nanotechnology and THC Detection
Recently, scientists at the Univeristy of Pennsylvania announced that they had developed a THC breathalyzer. The device uses nanotechnology to separate the substance from other compounds that can be found in a person’s breath, including CO2, water, ethanol, methanol, and acetone. When a person blows into the instrument, thousands of nanotubes collect the sample and record THC levels based on the amount of time it takes for sensors to read the substance.
Researchers were able to develop the breathalyzer because of recent advancements in technology. They created algorithms to help the machine refine its detection of THC.
Contact the Law Offices of William D. Thompson Today
The THC breathalyzer has yet to be released, but when it is, law enforcement will have a new tool to attempt to determine whether or not you were driving with a controlled substance in your system. New technology, and even current technology, could provide inaccurate results, and you might be charged based on the test – even if you had not used marijuana immediately before or while driving. Our lawyer has over 15 years of experience and knows how to approach DUI cases. We will thoroughly review the facts of your circumstances and build a defense to aggressively fight charges.