New technology would test for marijuana in drivers

The DUI laws in Pennsylvania say that a person can be charged with and convicted of driving under the influence if they are found to have been behind the wheel with any amount of marijuana in their system. This is because marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I narcotic at the federal level, despite many states legalizing it for medical or recreational use. People in Pennsylvania should be aware of a new technology that may make it possible for law enforcement to determine marijuana impairment among drivers.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh developed the technology, which works similarly to a breath test for alcohol but tests for the presence of THC, one of the active chemicals in marijuana. According to the researchers, the device makes use of carbon nanotubes that are 100,000 times smaller than a human hair. They claim that THC molecules in the breath attach to the nanotubes when a person who has been smoking marijuana blows into the device. The electrical properties of the nanotubes are changed by the THC, and the device indicates its presence.

The law may not yet be ready for the marijuana breath test, however, as the state of Pennsylvania has not said what level of THC in a person’s system would be considered impaired for driving purposes. With regard to alcohol, drivers in Pennsylvania are considered impaired if their blood alcohol level is .08 or higher.

People who are charged with drunk driving offenses in Pennsylvania may want to meet with a lawyer. A lawyer who practices criminal defense law might help by examining the facts of the case and looking for violations on the part of law enforcement or weaknesses in the prosecution narrative. A lawyer may be able to argue against the admissibility of certain prosecution evidence or negotiate a plea deal on the client’s behalf.