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Columbia Personal Injury Lawyer > Blog > Car Accident > Researchers Work To Develop Cannabis Breathalyzer For Traffic Stops

Researchers Work To Develop Cannabis Breathalyzer For Traffic Stops


Laws against drunk driving have contributed to a decline in traffic accidents that result in fatalities or catastrophic injuries, especially since it is now possible to measure a person’s level of alcohol impairment, so it is not just the driver’s word against the police’s about how drunk the driver was at the time of the traffic stop or accident.  Today, the language of DUI has become part of the popular lexicon.  Teenagers who are taking their traffic safety class as a prerequisite to getting a learner’s permit and starting driver’s ed learn that police can detect blood alcohol content (BAC) with a roadside breath test and that anything 0.08 percent or more is considered legally drunk.  Readers who have not emerged from following the 24-hour news cycle since the days of the COVID-19 lockdown can tell just from the driver’s BAC in a news story how devastating the accident was and how serious the legal consequences will be.  Meanwhile, possessing and consuming cannabis is considerably less illegal than it was when current DUI laws went into effect, but cannabis can impair one’s ability to drive safely as much as alcohol can.  Testing for cannabis impairment in drivers is more difficult, though.  If you got injured in a car accident where the driver was under the influence of cannabis, contact a Columbia car accident lawyer.

The Challenges of Testing for THC Impairment in Drivers

Anyone who ever anxiously abstained from smoking weed after getting a job where random drug tests are a condition of employment knows that you can be sober enough to work, even sober enough to work as a professional driver, but still have enough THC metabolites in your body for it to show up on a drug test that you have used cannabis in the recent past.  The tests that employers use to test for cannabis measure THC metabolites in the urine or air, and these remain detectable for weeks, or even months, after the person most recently used cannabis.

It is possible to test for recent cannabis use, and therefore current impairment, with a blood test, but it takes at least three hours for the test to produce a result.  The blood tests measure circulating THC, which indicates current impairment, instead of stored THC, which only indicates past cannabis use.  Therefore, these tests are useful as forensic evidence when a driver has caused a serious accident, but they are not practical for garden variety DUI traffic stops.  A professor from Virginia Commonwealth University and one from Universidade Federal Fluminense are working together to develop a breath test that measures circulating THC levels and can yield a result faster than the currently available blood tests.

Let Us Help You Today

The car accident lawyers at the Stanley Law Group can help you if you have suffered a serious injury in a car accident where the driver was under the influence of cannabis.  Contact The Stanley Law Group in Columbia, South Carolina or call (803)799-4700 for a free initial consultation.



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