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Scientists work to develop breath test for pot

Tokin' up is no longer as frowned upon now as it once was. Cheech and Chong would be proud of the changes made towards legalization of marijuana in some states, and would likely push for continued reform in others.

These changes have resulted in a number of legal questions. One of the most pressing involves the issue of how getting high impacts the user's ability to drive.

When does marijuana use result in driving under the influence charges? This question is particularly difficult to answer in states where marijuana use is legal, under state law.

In order to determine if a driver has consumed enough pot to inhibit driving abilities, some states use a 12-point test. This test includes a careful examination of the driver's sensitivity to light, ability to balance and a check for eyelid tremors. After complete, the officers need to request a search warrant in order to draw blood for further testing.

In an effort to reduce these steps, scientists are working to develop a device that would detect the presence of weed in a breath sample. Essentially, the device works by measuring the amount of the psychotropic agent (THC) of marijuana in a person's blood.

In an interesting twist, the mastermind behind this invention noted in an article in Bloomberg that there is no scientific proof that a certain level of THC is indicative of impairment. This notation was supported by a recent study looking into the same question conducted by AAA. Ultimately, researchers with the study could not find a connection between THC levels and impairment.

Which begs the question: just when is a driver impaired by marijuana? Like many answers in the legal world, the answer to this question hinges on a number of factors. Some seek to answer this question by using a multi-point test, as noted above. Others avoid the issue altogether by outlawing the drug completely.

New York has taken the former stance, with marijuana use remaining illegal at both the state and federal levels.

As a result, any level of marijuana use while driving can result in criminal drug charges. However, defenses are available. Those who face these charges should take the allegations seriously and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to help better ensure their rights are protected.

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