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Marijuana-related DWI charges: No accurate chemical tests

Dec 5, 2017 | DWI

In Texas, fewer people are getting behind the wheel after drinking. The same is not true for marijuana.

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more people are driving with some marijuana product in their bloodstream. Consumption is no longer limited to smoking. Edibles and concentrates, such as dabs, are as likely to cause impairment. But what level is enough to support a DWI charge?

Drug Recognition Experts

Most police officers in Texas do not have sufficient training to recognize marijuana impairment. And unlike alcohol there are no chemical tests for marijuana impairment similar to standardized blood or breath tests.

In other states like Colorado, law enforcement officers use a THC blood test to show “presumed” impairment. More than 5 nanograms in a milliliter of blood can be used to infer impairment. But there is no national standard on what constitutes marijuana intoxication. Scientists even disagree about what amount makes someone too high to drive.

Developing a standardized breath or blood test is a tough chemistry problem. Because THC dissolves in fat, it can linger in the body for longer. It also differs from person to person and is influenced by gender, frequency of use, type of cannabis product and amount of body fat. And for some frequent users THC may still show up in their blood for 30 days. Another study found that a user who had just smoked might not test positive.

Some scientists are looking at breath tests that would look for metabolites that show something actually went through a person’s system.

Subjective opinion

Currently, no quantitative measure has been developed that would stand up in court. This means there is room for human error.

Even with training, it can be difficult for law enforcement officers to correctly tell who is too high to drive. In a training where four volunteers had smoked a lot of pot, the men in the group still aced roadside field sobriety tests. Educated guesses are required and two officers might reach different conclusions.

The penalties for drug-related DWI are stiff, it is crucial to speak with one of the experienced defense attorneys at Mingledorff Law. If it is your word versus the word an officer, you need a strong advocate on your side.