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Driving stoned: What police will look for

  1. Basoodler
    VANCOUVER, Wash. – When possession of small amounts of marijuana becomes legal in Washington in three days, there will be a DUI limit of five nanograms of THC that you can have in your blood.

    But how will police officers detect that in drivers?

    There will be specially trained officers to figure out how much THC is in a driver's blood. They're called Drug Recognition Experts or DREs for short.

    They've actually been around for a long time. But now that some of the stigma of having pot is being lifted, more people may be willing to smoke it and get behind the wheel stoned.

    There are about a dozen police officers in Clark County trained as DREs to recognize the signs of when people are high on pot, cocaine, heroin and prescription medications.

    Officers like Ryan Martin with the Vancouver Police Department can tell if someone is high on pot or other drugs based on a series of eye tests. For example, if drivers can't cross their eyes, they’re likely high. There are other tests, too, that require the driver to hold his balance while counting at the same time.

    "We're looking to see if there's any sway while your foot's up; we're looking to see if your arms come out for balance; we're looking to see if you put your foot down, and we’re also looking to see if you start hopping because you start to lose your balance," said Martin. "So there're four clues, and what the studies done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (show), two clues of impairment are enough to suggest that somebody is impaired."

    He said someone’s perception of time is also affected while under the influence of marijuana. That's because time tends to slow down for people high on pot so their counting slows down. People on meth speed their counting up.

    Officers will also test to see if drivers can follow directions to find out "their ability to focus on what you told them to do," Martin said.

    There aren't any devices that exist like a Breathalyzer to test people along the roadside for pot and other drugs. But if a driver fails a DRE's roadside test, the driver will be brought to the police station for a lot more testing, including a blood draw. But the blood test results take six to eight weeks to come back.

    Plus: "If the person is not cooperative and not willing to provide a blood sample, then we can get a blood search warrant," Martin said.
    But getting the search warrant takes time.

    Even if the blood sample shows a lower level than the five nanograms of THC, someone can still be charged with DUI if the officer believes the tests show the driver is impaired. That’s also how it works with alcohol and the .08 limit.

    Checking a drunken driver is much, much easier. It takes two to three times longer to test and process a driver who's high on drugs.

    Washington voters passed Initiative 502 last month. It will allow anyone 21 or older to have up to an ounce of pot.

    video link

    By Dan Tilkin KATU News and KATU.com Staff Published: Dec 3, 2012 at 6:25 PM PST


  1. Magilla
    Interesting article just a reminder,

    "I do not consent to searches." -"blood search warrants?!?" does that include a no-knock??? Scary...

    "Am I being detained or am I free to go?" -Chances are your free to go especially if it has anything to do with a small amount of marijuana.
  2. Phaeton
    Publlic roads, public safety.

    Driving on a public road with a license purchased from the state gives them the 'knock' needed to detain and test with probable cause as determined by a law enforcement person.

    Much will depend on the individual officer, much as it does now. Pretty women get fewer tickets, ethnic minorities get more, the basic unfairness of life will persist.
  3. Basoodler
    Local authorities prepare for marijuana legalization starting Thursday

    SPOKANE -- Marijuana will be legalized on Thursday in Washington State, and now local law enforcement agencies are figuring out how to handle the change.

    Authorities will no longer be able to arrest people for misdemeanor possession, after Washington voters lapproved I-502 in November.

    Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said his agency will not be doing much different starting Thursday.

    He said deputies will receive extra training so they will be able to recognize when drivers are under the influence of marijuana.

    Drivers suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana will be asked to take a blood test. The agency is trying to figure out who will administer the blood tests.

    State licensers will have until December 2013 to figure out marijuana sales will be regulated.
    Possessing marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the Federal government


  4. syntheticdave
    Who the hell determined this? I can't even cross my eyes while I am perfectly sober, never could even as a kid.
  5. Magilla
    Totally agree the ways they are determining people are high make field sobriety tests for alcohol seem intelligent when they are typically absurd as well, example alphabet backwards, hop on one foot 10 feet in a straight line...But cross your eyes?!? What's next...
  6. Basoodler
    I can't find a published list of signs of "stoned driving" That would be an interesting read.

    I did come across this tidbit of information..
    Oopsy.. they forgot to add that :smoking:


    Legalized marijuana: Concerns over road safety, DUI level for pot users

    OLYMPIA — The legalization of marijuana in Washington state takes effect Dec 6. But there are concerns about what it will mean for road safety and how police will enforce DUI laws when it comes to stoned drivers.

    Under the new law, adults 21 and older will be able to legally possess an ounce of pot starting Dec. 6.
    But then what?

    That’s the question many in the Impaired Driving Working Group were asking during a meeting in Olympia Thursday night. The group includes members of the Washington State Patrol, prosecutors, judges and lawmakers.

    Many say it is going to take a while to figure out the standard protocol of when to arrest a driver under the influence of pot and how to make that determination.

    Under Initiative 502, which voters approved Nov. 6, drivers will be allowed to legally drive with up to 5 nanograms of THC, the active ingredient of marijuana, per milligram of blood. Based on some studies, that level is approximately equivalent to the state’s 0.08 percent blood-alcohol level.

    It is unclear how much marijuana one could smoke before reaching the 5 nanogram level, however.
    Jackalyn Veltkamp said medical marijuana is her solution to a barrage of health problems, including multiple sclerosis and insomnia.

    “I use it every night and it (THC) keeps stacking up and stacking up” in the body, said Veltkamp.
    If Veltkamp were to be tested on any given day, she said, her THC level would be in the thousands of nanograms.

    “One or two puffs, anybody would be over 5 nanograms,” Veltkamp said.
    One nanogram equals one-billionth of a gram.

    California’s pro-marijuana NORML organization said, “In the case of smoked marijuana, THC peaks rapidly in the first few minutes after inhaling, often to levels above 100 ng/ml in blood plasma. It then declines quickly to single-digit levels within an hour. THC can remain at low but detectable levels of 1-2 ng/ml for 8 hours or more without any measurable signs of impairment in one-time users.

    “In chronic users,” it said, “detectable amounts of blood THC can persist for days. In one study of chronic users, residual THC was detected for 24 to 48 hours or longer at levels of 0.5 – 3.2 ng/ml in whole blood.”
    Washington state Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, who has led the way for stronger laws on drunken driving, said he has heard about the concerns “as to how reliable this 5 nanogram is. There is not much science behind it so I’m expecting challenges in the future.

    “But in the meanwhile,” he said, “it is the law; we will just have to comply with it. We just need a lot more information about how it is going to be implemented.”

    Goodman is expecting challenges to the 5 nanogram rule by defense attorneys who say the threshold is too low.

    “There is not a lot of research on this, so it will be an interesting ride, so to speak,” said Goodman.
    Washington State Patrol Lt. Rob Sharpe said it’s too early to tell if there will be more impaired drivers. “It is possible, but we don’t know what to expect,” he said.

    Sharpe said his officers are adequately trained to pick out the signs of impairment, whether it is drugs or alcohol.

    But Veltkamp is convinced medical marijuana users will get caught in the web of uncertainty.
    “I know a friend who stopped smoking for a week and a half, got tested, he was 125 nanograms,” said Veltkamp.

    She noted that pot affects people differently, adding that it’s hard to gauge when someone is too stoned to drive.

    Goodman said he is planning to possibly draft legislation that could give added protection to medical marijuana users. He will also hold future hearings to gather more information for the public and legislators.

    23 hours ago
    by Hana Kim
    Q13 FOX News reporter

    Read more: http://q13fox.com/2012/12/04/offici...e-dui-laws-for-marijuana-users/#ixzz2ECkvRK1D

  7. trdofbeingtrd
    I 100% support people being able to smoke/eat/vaporize marijuana, medical or not. However, I 100% disagree about people driving while under the influence of marijuana.

    I think tests should be in place to get people who are driving while high, but not with physical coordination tests. Granted, if people are sober but cannot pass simple physical tests then it questions if they should be on the road. I just don't want to hypothetically live in Washington, have marijuana on me but had not smoked since the night before and still get a DUM (driving under influence of marijuana) because my balance goes wrong at the worst time. This is 2012 and close to 2013, it's hard to believe they still can't get a test that says if if you have recently ingested marijuana.
  8. nitehowler
    In Australia the police use mouth swabs which supposedly test saliva for dope speed and mdma.

    I wonder if this would pick up residual amounts the next day?
  9. Ottolobotomist
    This early in the process it seems to me that any law about limits of dilution of THC in blood is going to be rather arbitrary with respect to determining intoxication, still, it's disconcerting to think that DUIs could be handed out for a drug that stays in your system for weeks.

    Are there set limits for all the prescription drugs that soccer moms are on while driving the neighborhood kids to school or is this merely a continued persecution of pot smokers in spite of the new law?
  10. GeographyGeography
    Driving under the influence is irresponsible and stupid, but BLOOD SEARCH WARRANTS!? The founding fathers of america are *spinning* in their graves right now.
  11. Docta
    I'm surprised that with all the time leading up to the referendum and passing of legislation, the police in these jurisdictions don't have a a standardized roadside drug test.

    Roadside drug testing has been a mainstay of law enforcement in my state here in Australia for years. There is non of this rubbish about sobriety, impairment or influence; You get a tongue scrape and it's kind of like a pregnancy test, but without the piss.


    The stick test is an all in one - cannabis, meth, opiate and cocaine and if you get a positive a sample goes to the lab so there's safety against false positive.

    I just find it so hard to believe that a country that is touted to be leaders in law and civil rights can be so far behind the rest of the world with something as simple as roadside drug testing. Sounds like they have put the cart before the horse legalizing pot at the expense of public safety on the roads. It's not like there wasn't any warning that cannabis is going to become legal.

    Send your cops over to Australia for some training, I mean shit "BLOOD SEARCH WARRANTS" are you for real? What are you in the dark ages?

  12. carter 1203
    The roadside mouth swabs would be ideal instead of forcing a person to go in for a blood test. Personally, weed makes me a paranoid driver and a bit skittish. So it's best for people to just use common sense before driving don't you think?
  13. stormyskier
    One would think that the drug swipe would be cheaper than the blood test. People need to be responsible but they see how people act with alcohol and assume that medical marijuana users will be the same. In time, I hope they figure something out.
  14. Basoodler
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