Detection of drug-impaired driving

As Tennessee residents know, blood alcohol content tests, also known as BACs, have been in use for some time and are considered by the State as accurate measurements of the alcohol metabolites in an individual’s system. However, measuring for other substances that may cause impairment when driving, such as prescription painkillers, heroin, marijuana and others, might be more difficult in order to get an accurate reading.

Being able to obtain accurate metabolite measurements for drugs, whether illegal or legal, may be very different from that of alcohol. Because different drugs or medications may show different metabolite levels, and because certain metabolites may stay in the body for longer periods of time than others, a single standard is difficult to establish. Since zero drug tolerance while driving is the law in many states, drivers may be arrested and charged with DUI if any level of metabolite is measured at all depending on the motorist’s behavior while driving.

Marijuana has been legalized for recreational use in some states and for medicinal use in others. This has created a problem since the metabolites might remain detectable in the bloodstream for about a week. The problem is in recognizing the legal use of marijuana while law enforcement also tries to understand the difference between the presence of marijuana metabolites and impairment from recent use.

Another issue is that a Breathalyzer test does not exist for drugs as it does for alcohol. Urine and blood tests are used instead. Results may be delayed depending on the test.

Calling an attorney for advice may be beneficial in this situation. The attorney would be able to review the case and evidence to determine if there was impaired driving.

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