Marijuana testing poses an issue in drugged driving cases

Many people in Wisconsin have followed the news about the legalization of marijuana. A number of states now have legalized the use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. The legalization of marijuana has posed a problem for states to determine how to approach it in the context of impaired driving.

Unlike alcohol, which has an impairment level that is backed by research, marijuana does not have any corresponding literature demonstrating that a certain concentration of marijuana in the blood stream will impair people’s driving. Instead, different people’s bodies respond differently to marijuana. This means that some people can ingest large quantities without being impaired while others can ingest small quantities and become impaired.

Another issue is that tests check for metabolites in the person’s urine or blood. While alcohol leaves a person’s system over a period of hours, marijuana metabolites may remain in the person’s system for days or weeks. This makes it difficult to know when the person ingested marijuana before he or she drove. A backdrop to this is that companies are working to come out with roadside tests for marijuana that can check for marijuana metabolites that are present in the person’s breath. Since there is not a way to establish a firm impairment level for marijuana, it is unknown how these tests will help.

People who are charged with DWIs for driving while under the influence of marijuana might want to consult with a criminal defense attorney who is experienced with defending against both drugged and drunk driving cases. An attorney may be able to challenge the admissibility of the evidence in his or her client’s case. He or she may work to negotiate a dismissal of the charges or a plea to a lesser offense. In some cases, an attorney may fight for his or her client through trial.

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