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How does the law determine if you drive under the influence of marijuana?

On Behalf of | Oct 7, 2020 | criminal defense |

Law enforcement has a specific procedure that allows them to easily determine if you drive under the influence of alcohol. However, with marijuana use becoming more prevalent as many states start to legalize it, there is a concern about individuals driving under the influence of this drug, and law enforcement does not have a good procedure for determining if you are under the influence of drugs.

According to the Palm Beach Post, the current procedure for determining a DUI involving drugs is observation and field tests. Both of which are not an exact science and do not provide irrefutable proof. However, these things are all the court has to go on when rendering a decision.

Issues with standards

The state does not have a threshold for impairment, which adds to the issues of determining who is under the influence. With alcohol, there is a clear limit of 0.08% blood alcohol content. This is not possible with drugs because they affect people so differently that impairment in one person may not be in another.

Furthermore, there are no tests available that can check the amount of drugs in a person’s system inn the same way as we can test alcohol. Even if there was a test, it would not provide a clear picture of impairment, since that differs from person to person.

The courts must rely on testimony from officers and look at the circumstances of the situation to make a ruling in such a case. The main testimony from officers is often field tests they administered.

Field tests

Common field tests that an officer may give to you when stopping you under the assumption of a DUI involving drugs include lifting a leg and counting, tilting your head up and counting in your head, fingertip to nose, following a finger with your eyes and walking heel to toe. It is not up to the officer to determine what substance you may be using, which is why these tests are the ones they also use for alcohol. The main goal is to determine if you are suffering from impairment.