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Criminal defense could show subjective sobriety testing

The marijuana industry is reaching new frontiers. In California, medical marijuana has been legal for some time, and soon, recreational marijuana will be legalized. It is still illegal in the state to drive while impaired by the drug, however. Unfortunately, no uniform test yet exists for gauging a user's impairment. 

The unique properties of marijuana make it more difficult to test because the substance can stay in the body of the user for days or even weeks. Traditional blood tests can't reliably show how impaired a person is by the drug or how recently it has been used. With increased access to marijuana coming soon to the state, some entrepreneurs are developing solutions to the drug testing problem. At least two solutions are in the works, a Breathalyzer device similar to current devices used for alcohol, and a physical sobriety testing app. 

The search is out for an objective, science-based test that can reliably demonstrate when a person is too high to drive. The methods now used by police include smell, a physical sobriety test or dilated pupils. Critics argue that these methods can be ineffective and subjective, or even applied disproportionately to minority groups. 

In California, the subjective nature of marijuana impairment testing may be a factor in someone's criminal defense. Until technology catches up with the culture, there is no clear way to demonstrate impairment. A person accused of a marijuana DUI may wish to consult with an experienced attorney for assistance in building a strong defense for the case. 

Source:, "No uniform test for marijuana DUIs as legalization nears", Eli Wirtschafter, Dec. 19, 2017

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