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Companies Developing Marijuana Breathalyzers

Posted on in Criminal Defense
Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, driving under the influence, operating while intoxicatedOne of the biggest political controversies across the country today is the creeping legalization of marijuana. Many states have legalized marijuana for certain medical uses, and some have even gone so far as to legalize it for recreational use. This spate of legalizations presents a new issue, the likely increase in people driving under the influence of marijuana. In order to deal with this, both companies and universities are attempting to develop and commercialize marijuana breathalyzers for use by police forces. These breathalyzers have the potential to make enforcement of OWI laws more objective and scientific, but there are also some issues with their introduction. Potential Benefits The major benefit of these breathalyzers would be their objectivity. Right now, police officers are mainly forced to rely on their judgment to determine if a person is driving while under the influence of marijuana. They have to look for things like bloodshot eyes, failure of field sobriety tests, the smell of marijuana, and the presence of drug paraphernalia. While some of these may be strong indicators of an OWI, a person with bloodshot eyes who fails a field sobriety test could also simply be suffering from fatigue. The only way to be sure is to then bring the person back to the station to test their blood or urine for the presence of marijuana. These marijuana breathalyzers could change that. They could provide police with a convenient way to test for marijuana, and determine if it was worth bringing the person back to the station for a more thorough test. This could also benefit drivers since it would make it less likely for police to bring people back to the police station based on inaccurate suspicions. Possible Concerns However, there is also a good reason to be concerned about these new breathalyzers, particularly in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is known as a “zero tolerance” state for marijuana OWIs. This means that any detectable amount of marijuana in a person's system is enough to justify an OWI conviction. This could make marijuana breathalyzers a serious problem because they could lead to an over-enforcement of OWI laws. There is a big difference between having a detectable amount of marijuana in a person's system and having their driving impaired by the marijuana. Marijuana can be detectable for days or weeks following the use. This means that a person could come from a state where the use of marijuana is legal, and then be successfully charged with “impaired” driving weeks later. Consequently, the use of marijuana breathalyzers may require a change to Wisconsin's OWI laws. OWI charges can result in serious penalties, especially for repeat offenders. If you have been charged with an OWI and want to learn about your options, contact a skilled Milwaukee criminal defense attorney today.

 

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