Is a Marijuana Breathalyzer in our Near Future?


Recreational marijuana use has been legalized in Colorado and Washington, with legislation pending in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia. Additionally, use of medically prescribed marijuana is legal in 23 states plus the District and Columbia. The legalization of marijuana may be significantly more widespread if legislators were not so concerned with an increase of Americans who drive under the influence (DUI) of marijuana. In fact, marijuana DUI and the risk of accidents involving impaired driving has become a huge talking point in the marijuana legalization debate.

Currently, the tactics used by law enforcement to test suspected stoned drivers are far from perfect. Blood and urine tests are not only extremely invasive, but may also detect marijuana used days or even weeks prior to testing time. This makes these tests highly inaccurate indicators of whether drivers are actually impaired at the time they operate their vehicles. Saliva tests are more accurate and are easier to use at a roadside traffic stop without taking a suspect into custody first. However, saliva tests can also detect marijuana for up to 72 hours prior to the stop, can be inaccurate, and can have constitutional privacy rights issues due to the need for a suspect to surrender a DNA sample to complete the test. These challenges in controlling marijuana DUI have largely halted many state legislatures from considering legalization.

Is a Marijuana Breathalyzer the answer?

Canadian company Cannabix Technologies is reportedly preparing to introduce the first Breathalyzer device that can detect THC in North America. This marijuana Breathalyzer purportedly tests and reports whether a DUI suspect has had any THC in their lungs in the previous two hours. This time frame makes the Breathalyzer test significantly more accurate regarding DUI than blood, urine, or saliva testing. The test will also be extremely easy for law enforcement to administer at a traffic stop without violating any constitutional privacy rights.

This improved convenience and accuracy will likely serve to prevent a large number of false arrests, prosecutions, and convictions for marijuana DUI. However, if these devices are found to be accurate and the tests administered correctly, it will be more conclusive evidence in a marijuana DUI case and it will be more difficult for defendants to fight the legitimacy of their charges with an argument that the THC showed up from use days before their arrest. With the commercial release of these marijuana Breathalyzers purportedly in the near future, you can expect that experienced DUI defense attorneys will be closely studying and examining every aspect of the testing and results in order to identify possible defenses in cases involving Breathalyzer results.

If you have been arrested for DUI involving either alcohol, marijuana, or other types of drugs, an experienced DUI defense attorney at the Denver Tiftickjian Law Firm can help you with your case. We will analyze the particular circumstances in your case in order to limit or even eliminate any consequences you may face. Contact our office today to discuss how we can help you with your case.

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