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Researchers Say Device Can Measure Pot Intoxication in Drivers

car key and a joint

Law enforcement agencies have long struggled with how to measure whether a driver is impaired by substances other than alcohol during a roadside stop. This process may soon become easier in regards to measuring the presence of marijuana in drivers’ systems. One team of researchers claims that they have created a portable device which can accurately measure the amount of marijuana’s most psychoactive chemical through a quick roadside test.

Engineers at Stanford University have recently developed what they’re calling the “potalyzer.” The potalyzer is a mobile device that can quickly analyze a driver’s saliva to determine the presence of THC, the chemical in marijuana that makes people feel “high.” The device can not only determine whether THC is present, but can also determine the concentration of THC in the driver’s system. So far, while the device has worked in laboratory settings, a more user-friendly version is still in development.

Currently, law enforcement may pull over a driver that they believe to be under the influence of drugs due to their erratic driving, but they must arrest the driver and subject them to a chemical test in order to determine conclusively whether they have taken any illegal drugs. While these tests are generally accurate in measuring the presence of certain drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamines, blood and urine tests are not always accurate measures of the levels of marijuana in a driver’s system.

Some states have laws that set a minimum amount of THC that must be present in a driver’s system for them to be eligible for a charge of driving under the influence. In Virginia, however, if law enforcement determine that any amount of marijuana was present in a driver’s system while they were behind the wheel, that driver can be considered under the influence. State legislators in Virginia are currently considering several laws that could allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes in the state. Lawmakers would need to decide whether even slight amounts of marijuana in a driver’s system could potentially result in a conviction for driving under the influence of drugs, if measured in a driver who legally consumed the drug hours earlier and did not feel impaired when they got behind the wheel.

If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence in Virginia, get skilled and experienced legal help to fight the charges by contacting the DUI defense lawyers at the Pack Law Group for a consultation, at 540-586-7225.

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