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TRBR. Todd Bennett, P.C.

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Breath testing for marijuana on the horizon

Although Texas has not legalized the use of marijuana, many states have approved the possession and use of the drug for medical or recreational interests. Regulations from state to state can vary in terms of legal impairment, and those traveling across state borders could face legal challenges if they test positive for THC metabolites after being stopped for suspected DUI. Unfortunately, metabolites do not necessarily reflect an individual's impairment because traces of THC can remain in the system long after the psychological effects of pot have worn off.

A company based in California is developing a device for breath testing individuals suspected of marijuana use, but the equipment still requires additional evaluation. If the system proves to be successful in measuring THC levels in a driver's breath, it could provide a viable alternative to blood draws. At the same time, the lack of national standards for legal levels in motorists means that there could be difficulties for those traveling in different states. Some reports suggest that current limits are not scientifically supported.

The impact of marijuana legalization on driving safety remains to be seen. The details related to possession and use vary from state to state. Those traveling to other states after using the drug legally might want to become familiar with the DUI laws of those states to ensure that they understand the risks if stopped for driving while intoxicated.

A charge of driving under the influence does not imply that an individual will be convicted. In presenting a DUI defense, issues such as improper field sobriety testing or poor handling of biological evidence could be factors used by a lawyer to discredit the authorities. If there is strong evidence against a client in a DUI case, a lawyer might assist in negotiating for reduced charges and penalties, especially if the incident is a first offense.

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