DUI Breathalyzers: Marijuana Users Beware

DUI breathalyzers, long heralded as judge, jury and executioner in the never ending war on drunk driving, or more aptly, driving after having a drink in State College may now be used to determine whether someone has smoked marijuana prior to driving.

A British Colombia former police officer, which should tell you something, claims to have invented a breathalyzer that can detect the presence of marijuana. Former British Columbia police officer, Kal Malhi, recently stated in an interview with CTVNews,  that his intent in inventing the marijuana breathalyzer was to put an end to “drugging and driving.”

Dubbed the cannabis breathalyzer, the device allegedly works in a similar fashion as DUI breathalyzer in that the breathalyzer can detect whether someone has used marijuana in the last two hours. What Mr. Malhi fails to mention in the interview is how the device actually detects whether marijuana has been used in the last two hours. Instead, Mr. Malhi points out that the biggest factor in auto accidents is whether the driver is impaired. Again, Mr. Malhi fails to specify what level of impairment he is referring to, and whether that impairment figure includes all drunk drivers, texters and driving, drowsy and driving. and the newly coined “drugging and driving.”

Currently, the only approved methods for determining whether someone is a pot impaired driver is via a blood test or mouth swab, both of which, under the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling would seem to require a warrant or consent by the driver of the vehicle. Further complicating the legality of the use of marijuana breathalyzers by State College DUI police officers would be their admissibility, or more likely inadmissibility, in a court of law. As has been discussed repeatedly on this blog, portable DUI breathalyzers that measure a suspected drunk drivers blood alcohol content at a roadside stop are not admissible in Pennsylvania courts. Logically, it would seem that Pennsylvania courts would also take the same approach with respect to marijuana breathalyzers. If logic and legal precedent hold form, the use marijuana breathalyzers would be rendered functionally meaningless as the results would not be subjective evidence of a suspected pot impaired driver’s level of  intoxication.