A New Marijuana Breathalyzer Prototype Has Hit the Market - What Does This Mean for Georgia?

Posted by Richard Lawson | Aug 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

Just as with DUI in Georgia, DUI Marijuana in Georgia is on the rise. Other states have legalized both recreational and medical marijuana, but Georgia has not. We have very strict laws on marijuana in Georgia. And Georgia police are becoming increasingly more concerned about stoned drivers endangering themselves and others on roadways. 

The reality is that there are few accurate roadside tests to detect impairment from marijuana. Officers rely largely on Georgia Field Sobriety Tests that were developed to detect drunk drivers. 

Hounds Labs, a company out of California, has apparently made a major breakthrough by creating a marijuana breathalyzer - a device meant to mimic the Georgia Intoxilyzer 9000 by detecting marijuana on the accused breath of the driver. The device supposedly detects if there is any THC in the breath (THC is the psychoactive component in marijuana that causes impairment). 

The tools available now to officers regarding marijuana detection are utilized by blood, saliva, or urine. With these tools, the results come back in days, which is a problem for law enforcement. With tests like this, there is no way to tell whether or not the accused driver smoked before driving or weeks previously. THC dissolves in fat so it can stay in the body up to a month after use. 

As of right now, the machine can only detect the presence of THC - it cannot calculate the amount of THC consumed. A driver who smoked marijuana weeks ago is not impaired today. 

There is also no agreement in the scientific or medical community about what amount of THC constitutes functional impairment.

States such as Washington and Montana have set legal guidelines regarding how much THC causes impairment or makes you a dangerous driver. But those limits aren't backed by science. The only actual studies involved in the research of marijuana and its effective impairment on driving abilities focus on car accident rates. Yes, drugged driving accidents have increased. However, there is nothing to back up the extent or how long marijuana affects someone's driving response, skill, or judgment. The role of THC in those accidents is not known. There is no quantitative dose-response relationship between THC and risk of less safe driving.

This has not stopped the eagerness toward the new marijuana breathalyzer device. According to reports, a few different major cities are gearing up to partner up with Hound Labs to test the new breathalyzer as early as this fall. The company has made statements that they are hoping to have a product completely ready for law enforcement by early 2019.

There are plenty of issues with this breathalyzer, however, Hound Labs is not the only company racing to get the device finished and ready for officer use. There are several other companies that are attempting to make prototypes. 

Practice Note

As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I see DUI cases involving marijuana all the time. Georgia officers charge people with DUI for driving under the influence of marijuana. Most of the time, an officer will conduct a routine traffic stop for an offense like failure to maintain lane or speeding.  The driver pulls over and rolls down his window, and the officer claims to smell marijuana.  This leads to further investigation by the officer and observations of things consistent with being stoned such as red eyes or slow reaction times.

This is where we come in. Unfortunately, most attorneys assume guilt when they see a positive drug screen or test. 

This couldn't be farther from the truth. The truth is that no one is automatically guilty, and all cases have possible defenses. It is NOT illegal to have marijuana in your system while driving. Marijuana can stay in your system for weeks with absolutely no psychoactive effect. 

What's even more troubling is that most officers do not have the training or the experience to even begin to ascertain whether a driver is actually impaired from marijuana.

An arrest for DUI Marijuana in Georgia typically goes hand in hand with a Georgia Possession of Marijuana. Possession laws are complicated, but in Georgia, if you have a synthetic form of marijuana, it's a felony.

If you or a loved one has been arrested, contact our offices today. We know how to defend DUI cases that involve marijuana or other drugs.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Georgia DUI Defense Attorneys

At the Law Office of Richard S. Lawson, we have offices conveniently located throughout metro Atlanta and throughout Georgia. If we do not have a convenient office, we will come to you. We practice throughout Metro Atlanta and North Georgia. If your case is in an area we do not serve, we will find you an attorney in your area free of charge. Our office is part of a State-wide network of Georgia DUI Lawyers. Contact us 24/7 for immediate legal help. Our attorneys are standing by. Your DUI Case will not defend itself. Your Best Georgia DUI Defense Begins Here!