A growing number of people in Tennessee and around the country are facing DUI charges for allegedly driving under the influence of cannabis. While breathalyzer tests are intended to correctly detect whether a person has a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit, no similar testing protocol exists for cannabis. In addition, it is unclear exactly how and how much marijuana affects a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Some drivers have even been ordered to receive a blood test for alleged cannabis intoxication, another option that may be challenging, as THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, can persist in a blood test long after any intoxication has come to an end.
However, drivers may soon face a different type of test meant to detect whether they have been smoking cannabis and driving. Scientists say that attempts to develop a breath test for marijuana are flawed, as THC is not easily passed in the breath. Police may generally not conduct blood tests on their own. Therefore, they are investigating potential saliva tests that would indicate the level of THC drivers have in their blood.
One proposed device uses sensor strips paired with an electronic reader to perform a saliva test. The strips use an antibody that reacts to THC to separate the substance from the rest of the saliva and produces a result that could indicate THC levels in the blood. If the test is adopted, it would take around five minutes from the beginning to the end.
While more people may face charges associated with traditional drunk driving, cannabis-related DUI issues carry the same hefty penalties, including large fines, loss of a driver’s license and even jail time. A DUI defense attorney may help people to protect their rights if they are accused of driving while impaired.