(908) 256-3039


Call Us

Tom Chaves Law Discusses New Marijuana “Breathalyzer” Called a Potalyzer That Can Detect Recent Drug Use

There are now a few states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational use. In New Jersey, marijuana is still a Schedule I controlled substance, and it is illegal to drive while impaired by the effects of marijuana. However, some analysts think it is possible that lawmakers will consider legalizing small quantities of marijuana for personal use in the near future. One of the obstacles to legalizing marijuana to any degree was that it was not possible to distinguish between recent marijuana use that could cause impairment and past marijuana use, making it difficult to enforce laws that prohibited driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) when it came to marijuana.

A team from Stanford University led by Dr. Shan Wang recently announced that they have successfully developed a breathalyzer-like device to measure the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels in your saliva, and this can be used to predict whether or not someone is driving while impaired. Unlike a traditional breathalyzer, which detects the amount of alcohol in your breath to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC), the new “potalyzer” uses saliva for a reading and is apparently accurate enough to detect as little as 0 to 50 nanograms of THC per milliliter of fluid. This is necessary because THC (marijuana’s main psychoactive component) remains in one’s blood much longer than alcohol, meaning you could still test positive for marijuana use with a blood test, even if the THC is no longer affecting your ability to drive.

Specifically, the potalyzer involves using test strips that are coated with THC. The test strips are then applied to a driver’s saliva that has been mixed with specific antibodies that act as markers. The combine strips are then loaded into a handheld measuring device, to determine how much unbound THC remains after the antibodies have performed their function. By doing this, the system can accurately estimate how much THC remains on the strip, which is proportional to how much THC was present in the driver’s saliva, and the results can be displayed quickly.

Although the new tool has not yet been implemented by law enforcement, lawmakers may move quickly to implement this or a similar test, as long as the test makers can show that the potalyzer is fast, efficient, and reliable. Law enforcement officials will also favor such a test because it does not require an officer to draw blood, which can be difficult and generally requires a warrant.

At this time, further research is still required to show what saliva-THC levels mean with regard to how much THC must be present before a person’s driving ability is impacted. After that, lawmakers will still need to pass statutes regarding official legal limits.

Until then, it remains illegal to drive under the influence of drugs such as marijuana in New Jersey. The consequences of driving under the influence of drugs are very serious and can include fines, loss of driving privileges, or even jail time. Because DUID laws are always changing, an experienced attorney will be able to take the time, sit down with you and review your case, and explain what consequences you are facing in your specific situation. If you go to court, an experienced lawyer will be best prepared to argue in your defense and may be able to have the charges against your dropped completely.

New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer Tom Chaves Helps Drivers Charged with DUI/DWI

If you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs or marijuana in New Jersey, you may be facing serious charges that include consequences of fines, loss of driving privileges, or jail time. Experienced New Jersey Criminal lawyer Tom Chaves will help you fight for your rights and always strives to have your charges dismissed completely. If the charges against you cannot be dismissed, we will fight to have them downgraded. An experienced criminal attorney can significantly improve your chances of avoiding a conviction. For a free consultation, call us at 908-256-3039 or contact us online today. We represent individuals with criminal charges in Somerset County, Hunterdon County, Middlesex County and Union County.

Share this Article

About the Author