Roadside breath test designed to weed out stoned drivers

December 1st, 2014 by Staff

Researchers at Washington State University are working on a handheld device that would allow police to test drivers for pot impairment.

( SEATTLE, Washington – Researchers at Washington State University in Seattle are working on a breath test to determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana.

The News Tribune reports that law enforcement officers have a test for alcohol, but they don’t have a tool to test for marijuana impairment. 
Right now, officers must use blood tests to determine if THC is present in a driver’s blood.

But WSU chemistry professor Herbert Hill says existing technologies like those used by airport security agents to detect drugs and explosives can be altered to test breath for THC. 

Hill says his team hopes to start testing on humans early next year.

The Washington State Patrol says it welcomes anything that gets impaired drivers off the road.

The issue of stoned drivers has only increased for police since the state legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012.

The hand-held device being developed is not likely to be able to determine how much THC is in a driver’s system.

The current legal limit is five nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood.

However the test will be able to determine whether there is THC present.

That will be enough for officers to make an arrest of an impaired driver and then do further tests that could be used in court as evidence.
‘We believe at least initially that it would lower the false positives that an officer would have,’ Hill told The Tribune. 

‘They would have a higher level of confidence in making an arrest.’

A State Patrol spokesman said they were excited about the new technology, but would not be willing to implement it until the tests are ‘rock solid’. 

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