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Police consider new marijuana breath-test device for drivers

Law enforcement has been unable to conclusively determine whether a motorist is driving under the influence of marijuana. Police in Luzerne County are considering the use of a new device, which is intended to determine whether the driver smoked marijuana within a couple of hours of a traffic stop. It could impact the prosecution of drug charges and pose issues to users of medical marijuana.

Currently, it is difficult to detect marijuana use by drivers. Besides their observations, police can summon drug recognition experts and perform blood testing. But, blood testing is expensive and can take weeks for the results to come in.

Pennsylvania law enforcement authorities are currently looking into new devices that may be able to test marijuana intoxication in drivers.

Hounds Labs is a California company that has developed a marijuana breath test device. Its chief executive claims that the device will detect whether the driver smoked marijuana within a couple of hours of the stop. Hounds Labs has not said what amount of THC would trigger a positive response. Any THC in a driver's system is a crime in Pennsylvania, according to police.

The new device can also detect alcohol. However, these results are usually inadmissible in court because the test is not scientifically-supported.

This new test also presents problems for drivers who are lawfully taking medical marijuana. The state Department of Health informed them that they should always carry their marijuana identification card with them, especially when they drive. They should also keep prescribed marijuana in its original container. Like other drivers on legal medication, however, medical marijuana users should not drive if they are impaired.

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