Updated on February 3rd, 2021 at 10:49 pm

Can a “Potalyzer” assist in the detection of impaired driving?  The observable way to determine alcohol intoxication is by testing the blood, breath, or urine.  When pulled over for a DUI in Wisconsin, a person will most likely undergo a breath and blood test, depending on whether or not he or she refused to submit to an evidentiary test.  With marijuana legalization spreading across the country, a new problem has arisen: how to determine the levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in a motorist’s blood, breath or urine and at what level do signs of impairment begin to affect a person’s driving?  Researchers at Stanford University have developed “Potalyzer” that may begin to address this problem.

How Do You Measure Pot’s Legal Limit?

Although many states have placed legal limits on marijuana intoxication while driving, it has been difficult to detect if a person is under the influence of the drug.  Officers already can obtain a warrant to test a motorist’s blood for suspected impairment from THC, but this is a lengthy process that can take several weeks to receive the results. Additionally, blood tests are not accurate to determine whether a person used the drug a week or an hour ago.  This makes it difficult to determine an accurate level to set a “legal limit” of restriction while driving and reduce impaired motorists on the road.  As a result, there has been a race to develop an accurate breathalyzer for pot.

The “Potalyzer” is the new test that may enable law enforcement officials to accurately determine a motorist’s level of THC present in their saliva. The way it works is an officer would swab spit from the driver and then test the saliva using magnetic nanotechnology.  The results could be read in just a few minutes.  The potalyzer can detect concentrations of THC from 0 to 50 nanograms per milliliter of saliva, giving a more accurate reading of the concentration in a person’s system.  The sensors used to detect THC are extremely sensitive and can detect any small molecules.  This may lead to the development of devices used for the detection of other drugs as well, such as heroin and cocaine.

Detection is Not Impairment

The advanced technology is progress; however, detection does not necessarily constitute impairment.  Research is so scarce to determine what level of marijuana results in impairment.  In fact, many previous tests have shown different factors determine impairment.  Some states with laws in place to determine impairment have a legal limit of 5 nanograms.  A person who has smoked marijuana for many years might show no signs of impairment at this level, whereas a rare smoker may be quite impaired at that level.  This technology is a move in the direction to address accuracy issues of testing THC levels. However, much research and testing is needed to be done to determine what level constitutes impairment.

Contact a Professional

If you have been charged with drugged driving, Attorney Nathan J. Dineen is your best defense.  He is nationally recognized as one of the best DUI attorneys in Wisconsin and is tireless in his dedication to seeking justice on behalf of his clients.  You can get in touch with our aggressive legal team by calling our local office or Toll-Free at 1-877-384-6800 or Fill Out the DUI Case Review Form.