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As more states pass laws legalizing marijuana for medical purposes and even for recreational use, it is creating many questions for law enforcement agencies, law making bodies, users, and many other groups. A lot of people think of a DUI as something you get for drinking alcohol then driving, but this is not the only way you can get a DUI. DUI simply stands for driving under the influence, and you can be under the influence of any substance including marijuana. Even if it becomes legal to use marijuana where you live, it is still not safe to drive under its influence.
There is an ongoing effort to find the best way to reduce drugged driving. But why include pot in this campaign? Some people believe that marijuana, also known as pot, Mary Jane, grass, reefer, herb, chronic, and weed, is safer than most other drugs and possibly even safer than alcohol. But some recent studies show that states that legalized recreational weed have seen an increase in car accidents. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main active ingredient in marijuana, affects areas of the brain that control your body’s movements, balance, coordination, memory, and judgment which are all important for safe driving.
Can a breathalyzer detect pot? The simple answer is no. Hand-held breathalyzers and ignition interlock devices such as those offered by Smart Start of Louisiana are specifically designed to detect and measure the alcohol content in your breath sample. So how do police officers know when to issue a DUI when marijuana is the substance a driver has taken? Law enforcement often relies on field sobriety tests to determine whether a driver is impaired. Technology is quickly advancing in the field of roadside marijuana detection, and some agencies now have various testing tools at their disposal to help. But regardless of whether they have a test to detect it, officers can still make DUI arrests based on other information available.
Both marijuana and driving laws vary by state. If you intend to drive, the safest option is not to have any alcohol or drugs in your system at all. If you have an IID installed in your vehicle, you should be aware that blowing marijuana smoke into the device could register as a violation, force you to re-take a test, or cause damage to the ignition interlock device and you would be responsible for all of these. The alcohol-specific fuel cell that powers your IID is reliable, durable technology, but it is meant only for collecting and analyzing breath samples. An interesting fact about IIDs is that some of them were ordered to be installed after someone received a DUI for using marijuana even though the unit will not detect pot. This may be because studies demonstrate a strong correlation between drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, and it’s best to avoid both substances when you’ll be operating a vehicle.
Even if you live or work in a state that allows you to legally use marijuana, you should remember the negative effects it has on your ability to drive. Drive sober and clean to get where you’re going safely and without a DUI. Contact us to see how we can help in your safe driving efforts.
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