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How will marijuana impairment be tested for a DUI charge?

Following the vote to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California, law enforcement is concerned about the expected increase in pot-impaired driving cases. In California, approval for Proposition 64 was voted last month. While a DUI charge can include either alcohol or drug impairment, the lack of a legal and accurate roadside test to determine the presence of drugs in a driver's system is a problem.

At this stage, law enforcement has no way to prove that an individual was operating a vehicle while he or she is under the influence of marijuana. THC -- the ingredient in cannabis that is psychoactive -- is not detectable in any legal roadside test at present. A THC test that other countries use widely is not yet recognized in California, despite efforts to get such a bill passed.

For now, officers have only a 12-step specific field sobriety test to fall back on. This test is designed to identify drivers who are impaired by drugs. However, before asking a driver to subject him or herself to this test, an expert in drug recognition must suspect such impairment. In a state where recreational use of pot is legal, without enough officers with the required training to recognize drivers under the influence of marijuana, it will be interesting to see how law enforcement of this issue will be handled.

When a California driver faces a DUI charge, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. Anyone who is accused of driving under the influence of marijuana has every right to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney. An attorney can examine the methods used to determine impairment, and challenge any irregularities in court. Whatever the defense strategy, the lawyer will work to achieve the best possible outcome.

Source: mercurynews.com, "How do California cops know if you're too high to drive?", Kelly Puente, Dec. 21, 2016

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