On January 2018, California became the eighth state to legalize marijuana. While cannabis may now be legal to possess a California Cannabis DUI is possible if driving under the influence of marijuana. So how do authorities test for THC impairment for drivers in California? Read on to find the answers to all your cannabis DUI questions in California.
How Does Law Enforcement Test For THC Impairment?
Unlike Alcohol or other drugs, Marijuana stays in a person’s blood stream several weeks after the drug has been consumed. There is no THC level like the one for blood alcohol of 0.08%. In California, and there are no simple tools like the Breathalyzer to instantly gauge if someone’s driving impaired. California does employ drug recognition officers trained specifically to conduct tests and identify cannabis DUI impairment, They start with a field sobriety tests. If you fail, that can give them probable cause to arrest you. The following are field sobriety tests.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is administered by an officer moving an object from side to side in front of a person’s face. They do this is to try and detect an involuntary jerking of the eye associated with high levels of intoxication. A person’s eye will reportedly jerk naturally after being strained beyond a 45 degree angle, but if the eye begins to jerk at or before moving 45 degrees, CA police officers can reference this reaction as evidence that a driver is under the influence.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.) estimates that these tests are 77% reliable.
Walk and Turn Test
The walk and turn test splits a suspected Marijuana DUI offender’s attention between physical and mental tasks. Also known as the “walk the line test”, the officer provides instructions to the suspected offender and watches to see if any of the following occur:
- Loss of balance
- Wrong number of
- steps taken
- Cannot stay on the line
- Stops and starts when walking the line
- Starting before instructed
N.H.T.S.A. estimates that this test is effective 68% of the time.
One Leg Stand Test
Another divided attention test, during the “one leg stand” an officer will instruct the suspect to raise his or her foot, hold still, count, and look down. An officer may arrest the suspect if any of the following behaviors are observed:
- Putting foot down
N.H.T.S.A. estimates that this test is effective 65% of the time.
Blood or Urine Test
A urine test is not common, but if officers are unable to administer a blood or breath test, you are required to take a urine test. For Cannabis, blood, and urine tests are a flawed system, as blood and urine tests cannot to determine when Marijuana was last consumed as THC stays in the body for weeks after consumption. Breath testing technology does not have the ability to detect Marijuana, as of now.
Saliva Drug Swab Test
Law enforcement is now testing using drug swabs at DUI checkpoints. The test is roughly eight minutes long and uses a person’s saliva to detect THC, crystal meth, methadone, cocaine, and several other prescription medications.The tests work by detecting trace amounts of drugs in California driver’s saliva, but there can be traces of some drugs in your saliva up to three days after consuming them. For this reason these swab tests are not considered 100% reliable to get a court conviction for a California Cannabis DUI.
Penalties For California Cannabis DUI