Federal Researchers Test How High is Too High to Drive

In our blog, we've been closely following the efforts of Washington officials to enforce laws against driving under the influence of marijuana. Aside from the logistics of enforcing marijuana DUI laws in the field, regulators and lawmakers have also been attempting to pinpoint exactly when a motorist can be considered too high to drive. According to a recent piece from USA Today, federal regulators and scientists are working to find this information by mirroring tests used to decide legal limits for drunk driving.

The tests, according to federal scientists, are considered part of the most comprehensive study ever conducted on the impact marijuana – as well as the combination of marijuana and alcohol – can have on driving abilities. They involve a group of volunteers working with the University of Iowa's National Advanced Driving Simulator. Data from the study will assist regulators as they work to decide an accurate legal limit for marijuana DUI.

Driving Simulator

Participants in the study used the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS), which is a high-tech federally funded simulator that can mimic the look and feel of real driving, including everything from parking lots to gravel roadways. The simulator can also create unexpected stimuli, such as a deer jumping into the road or cars swerving into a driver's lane.

Before using the NADS, each driver was required to consume specific amounts of marijuana, combinations of marijuana and alcohol, or a placebo and provide blood and saliva tests to check their level of intoxication. The three-year study concluded this spring. Researchers are analyzing data to release later this year.

The main question the study is meant to answer is: when is a driver too high to drive? With data from the study, researchers will try to decide whether there should be a zero tolerance policy or a specific level that is acceptable, which is the case for driving under the influence of alcohol. Researchers admit that the question is difficult, and are also paying close attention to the issue in Colorado and Washington.

As researchers continue to analyze data from the study, law enforcement officers in Colorado and Washington are exploring new testing and enforcement efforts, including drug recognition experts, field saliva testing, and blood draws. The issue and central question of when officers can arrest drivers for being too high, however, still remains an arguable and controversial issue. For drivers who are arrested for marijuana DUI today, this opens the door to a number of defense strategies.

At Dichter Law Office, PLLC, Lynnwood DUI Attorney Jonathan Dichter remains up-to-date with the evolving trends in marijuana DUI laws. His experience concentrating on DUI and related offenses has prepared him to effectively defend the rights and futures of motorists charged for driving under the influence of marijuana. If you would like to discuss your case and learn how Attorney Dichter can help, call 866-620-9524 for a free consultation.

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