Are field sobriety tests reliable for marijuana intoxication?

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2021 | Drug Charges, DUI/DWI Defense |

Now that cannabis consumption is legal for most adults in the Garden State, you may enjoy smoking pot or eating edibles without worrying about facing penalties. If you drive when you are high, though, officers may arrest you and charge you with driving under the influence of drugs.

Before officers can stop your vehicle, they typically must have reasonable suspicion you are doing something wrong. If they believe you may be under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or anything else, they may ask you to perform a field sobriety test.

What are field sobriety tests?

Field sobriety tests give officers an opportunity to gauge driver impairment beside the road. When checking your physical and cognitive abilities, officers may ask you to perform specific mental and psychomotor tasks. If you fail a field sobriety test, officers may request a breath, blood or urine sample for chemical testing.

Are field sobriety tests effective for marijuana?

The National Institute of Justice recently published the results of a study, which members of law enforcement may find problematic. During the study, researchers found no reliable correlation between THC levels and performance on field sobriety tests. That is, marijuana intoxication had little or no effect on a study participant’s ability to comply with officer instructions.

Does chemical testing work for marijuana intoxication?

Regardless of how you consume marijuana, chemical testing may also not tell officers much about your driving impairment. In the NIJ study, THC levels did not positively correlate with cognitive or psychomotor impairment.

While field sobriety and chemical tests have led to thousands of drunk driving convictions, they simply may not be sufficient to support an arrest for marijuana intoxication. Consequently, if you are facing charges for drugged driving, you may want to look closely at the officer’s rationale for your arrest.


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