August 22, 2014 By Matthew Wallin
Marijuana Breathalyzer

California law enforcement could greatly benefit from Breathalyzer technology that is able to detect both alcohol and drugs.  Unlike alcohol, it is far more challenging for law enforcement to quickly and accurately determine driver impairment due to drug use.  According to a recent study, researchers indicate that there is an ability to identify the presence of THC in users for limited periods of time following subjects’ inhalation of marijuana.

Much like portable alcohol screening (PAS) devices used in DUI alcohol investigations, marijuana Breathalyzer technology would be no more than a detection test.  Mere detection of the presence of THC does not serve as proof that the driver is “impaired” such that an arrest and prosecution for DUI would be appropriate under Vehicle Code 23152(a).

California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) states that it is unlawful for any person who is “under the influence” of any alcoholic beverage or drug to drive a vehicle.  A driver is considered “under the influence” when his or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired by drugs or alcohol that he/she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the same caution as a sober person using ordinary care under similar circumstances.  If a person is convicted of a first-time violation of Vehicle Code Section 23152, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail from 96 hours to six months, and by a fine of three hundred ninety dollars ($390) to one thousand dollars ($1,000).  In addition, upon conviction of a first-time DUI, the DMV will suspend the driver’s license of the person convicted for a period of six months.

The difficulty for prosecutors and law enforcement when it comes to DUI Marijuana is the fact that as of now, no data exists to correlate THC breath detection levels with behavioral impairment. A skilled DUI defense attorney would argue that the detection of THC cannot be scientifically linked to actual mental or physical impairment.  As such, this evidence should deemed inadmissible and not be used when making an arrest determination or in court to support a DUI conviction.

Marijuana does not metabolize as predictably as alcohol and it remains in the bloodstream long after it has been smoked.  The obvious concern is that law enforcement and prosecutors will use the detection of any amount of THC to mean the driver was impaired. Regardless of whether you are a valid medical marijuana patient, if marijuana Breathalyzers are approved for use by law enforcement in California, drivers should take caution.

If you are facing a DUI charge, you should contact the Law Offices of Wallin & Klarich immediately. The skilled criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully defending DUI cases. Our attorneys will provide you with the most efficient and professional representation from the moment that you retain us. We will scrutinize all of the evidence and use all available defenses in order to provide you with the best opportunity to win your case.

Our offices are located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina, Victorville, Torrance, and Sherman Oaks. Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL. We will get through this together.

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