Nowadays, alcohol is not the only substance that can lead to a DUI. Drugs such as marijuana can significantly impair individuals behind the wheel, but police did not necessarily have the tools to detect this in the past.
Recent developments might have changed that for the future.
First, how can marijuana impair drivers?
Much like alcohol, marijuana can:
- Reduce coordination;
- Slow reactions; and
- Influence judgment and decisions.
These effects can significantly impact individuals behind the wheel. Currently, police can often detect impairment, but the Breathalyzers were not always reliable in accurately detecting marijuana on someone’s breath.
Scientists claim a new device will detect marijuana in breath
Marijuana is not yet legal in Kentucky. However, since many states have legalized the substance, the need for laws regulating the use of recreational marijuana is only increasing. One of those needs was a Breathalyzer that could detect marijuana – and perhaps other drugs – in an individual’s breath.
And early in September, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh announced they had developed a Breathalyzer that could detect THC. The researchers stated that the device is almost ready for mass production and that these Breathalyzers could play a significant role in traffic stops nationwide as early as 2020.
The new Breathalyzer could increase potential consequences
The rate of marijuana-related DUIs could significantly increase with this new device. And individuals could face serious charges if they are under the influence of marijuana while behind the wheel. The consequences could compound, since:
- Driving under the influence of drugs is still a DUI, with the same penalties including fines, license suspension and even jail time; and
- Most drugs, including marijuana, are still illegal in Kentucky. Therefore, the penalties of a DUI could increase with additional drug charges.
There is no definitive date for when the new Breathalyzer could hit the streets, but individuals should be prepared. Kentuckians should take the time to understand their rights in a traffic stop and be extra careful when getting behind the wheel.