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Roadside sobriety test for marijuana

Researchers and law enforcement authorities are trying to figure out to what extent marijuana impairs a motorist's ability to drive. In North Carolina, motorists driving while high on drugs like marijuana or prescription drugs risk DWI charges, just like driving drunk.

But with the trend toward legalization of medical marijuana (16 states have done so thus far) police agencies are blaming a significant number of auto wrecks and deaths on people who use marijuana and then drive impaired, as Ralph Vartabedian reports for the Los Angeles Times.

If you're pulled over for impaired driving, the police officer may decide to give you a 12-point roadside sobriety test, if the officer suspects that you are under the influence of marijuana, a test which includes walking in a straight line, standing on one leg, and making a guess as to when 30 seconds have ticked by. And, as Vartabedian reports, the police officer will also examine your pupils, blood pressure and pulse.

Chuck Hayes works for the International Association of Police Chiefs and says that the current roadside sobriety test for marijuana (as well as the use of "professional judgment," to quote Vartabedian, on the part of police when assessing whether or not the driver might be high) works and nothing more is needed by way of research into additional evaluative tools for police.

Hayes says, "We are not concerned with levels or limits," referring to how much marijuana a driver has inhaled or consumed. "We are concerned with impairment."

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Stoned driving is uncharted territory," by Ralph Vartabedian, 7/2/11

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