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New Marijuana Breathalyzers

If you’re not following the law while driving, chances are you’re eventually going to get caught. You probably know at least a little about breathalyzers, and how they can be used to determine if someone is driving under the influence of alcohol. In fact, when you obtain a drivers’ license, you agree to be subject to a breathalyzer test, should a police officer suspect you of DUI. Well, new technology is emerging in the area of DUI detection, monitoring a variety of new “influences” that can cause accidents.

Textalyzers are now under legal consideration in New York. This technology aims to make roads safer by allowing the examination of a driver’s cell phone after a crash to determine if texting while driving has occurred. Additionally, marijuana breathalyzers are in development; this in response to the legalization of marijuana in many states.

What is a Marijuana Breathalyzer?

Oakland startup Hound Labs, Inc. recently announced a handheld device that would measure THC presence in a driver’s breath. Law enforcement personnel have successfully completed roadside field-testing of this tool to combat driving under the influence of marijuana. Scientists at University of California, Berkeley, partnered with Hound Labs, Inc. to develop the marijuana breathalyzer, which was designed for detection of impairment due to recent THC consumption. This consumption could be from smoking marijuana, ingesting cannabis-infused edibles, or taking cannabis products in other ways.

The Roadside Tests

Roadside tests to evaluate the new marijuana breathalyzer included different scenarios in which police officers suspected drivers of being under the influence of marijuana use. In these tests, drivers were first given field sobriety evaluations. If they performed poorly, they were asked to voluntarily blow into the handheld marijuana breathalyzer, which relayed information to a docking station that conducted chemical analysis. The analysis determined whether THC levels were detected.

The Goal Behind Breathalyzer Testing

Those conducting the marijuana breathalyzer tests say they’re not out to get people arrested. In reality, educating people on the illegality of driving stoned is the goal. In the recent roadside tests, THC level readings in the breath did correspond to how recently the drivers consumed cannabis. The drivers who failed the tests weren’t arrested, but they were given safe transportation home.

The Future for Marijuana Breathalyzers

As development progresses for marijuana breathalyzers in order to be used effectively in the field, researchers are looking at product design. Hound Labs is evaluating ways to make the devices more durable and rugged. Various law enforcement agencies will continue to conduct roadside tests with the breathalyzers, but due to confidentiality, various departments using the new tools will not be named. We do know, at least, that the police department in Lompoc, California has signed on to test the devices.

In addition to the breathalyzer, other companies have marijuana intoxication testing tools in the works that include methods for measuring THC impairment in saliva taken from drivers. Colorado’s state patrol is currently testing 5 of these devices as part of its program to measure marijuana in oral fluid. As more states legalize marijuana, we can expect more technology to emerge, as well as further regulations as to what is illegal when it comes to marijuana use and driving.

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