Saliva test might detect THC levels in drivers

Like many states, Illinois allows the use of marijuana for medical reasons. However, driving while intoxicated by marijuana is still unlawful, and law enforcement officials are looking for a practical way to test drivers for marijuana. While breath tests are used to determine how much alcohol is in a driver's system, marijuana is usually detected with much more invasive measures like blood and urine tests.

Magnetic nanotechnology may provide police officers with an easier method for testing drivers for marijuana intoxication. A team of researchers from Stanford University invented a device that has been nicknamed the "potalyzer". It can analyze a spit sample collected on a cotton swab and then deliver test results on a mobile device such as a smartphone.

While the potalyzer may be able to detect the presence of THC in a driver's saliva, there is debate over the test's ability to determine a driver's level of intoxication. Many states have not set a legal intoxication limit for drivers with marijuana in their systems, and there is no consensus on how much THC results in intoxication. However, some researchers have found that person people be too intoxicated to drive safely if they have 2 to 25 nanograms of THC per milliliter of saliva. The potalyzer can detect THC levels from 0 to 50 nanograms per milliliter of saliva.

People who are facing DUI charges related to marijuana use may have a lot of strong arguments that they and their defense attorneys can use to dispute the allegation. One could be a challenge to the traffic stop that led to the arrest as being made without probable cause.

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