Research at WSU has led to the development of a portable breath test to detect marijuana DUI. Drivers under the influence of marijuana have become an increased concern since Washington voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2012. A quarter of blood samples taken from drivers in 2013, the first full year the initiative was in effect, came back positive for marijuana.
WSU chemistry professor Herbert Hill and WSU doctoral student Jessica Tufariello are working on a handheld device that uses a technique called ion mobility spectrometry to detect THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, on a person’s breath. Currently, officers and prosecutors rely on a blood test to determine the amount of THC present in a driver’s blood. These blood results are not immediately available to patrol officers who suspect a person of driving while impaired. An experienced Tacoma DUI Attorney can attack weed dui breath tests when they become available.
Initiative 502 set 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood as the legal limit at which a driver is automatically determined to be impaired. Initially, the marijuana breath test under development at WSU probably won’t be able to pinpoint the level of THC in the body; it will only tell officers that some THC is present. It is believed that this would be a helpful tool to officers as they decide whether to arrest a suspected impaired driver. However, since no numerical value is obtained with this test, a positive result is sure to result in an arrest.