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Field sobriety testing for marijuana usage

Georgia residents might be familiar with the field sobriety tests that law enforcement officials use when trying to determine if a motorist is driving under the influence of alcohol. Some of these tests are also used to assess if a driver is under the influence of marijuana. However, it is not yet clear whether the tests can be scientifically accurate when pinpointing high motorists.

The justice system in Massachusetts is considering whether field sobriety test results should be admissible evidence in drug cases. Some defense lawyers think that current field sobriety tests cannot reliably detect high motorists. On the other hand, prosecutors believe that using these tests are important as there are few other avenues for detecting drug use when pulling a driver over. There are no roadside breath or blood tests that can reliably find high motorists.

Since marijuana is legal for medicinal or recreational use in many states, testing has become more complicated. THC, the inebriating compound in marijuana, can be present in the blood for a few weeks after consumption. If a driver tests positive for marijuana use, this might show that he or she smoked sometime recently but does not mean this driver was actually under the influence of the drug while on the road.

While field sobriety tests are considered reliable when measuring intoxication, these tests are not perfect. In fact, an attorney might question the results of these tests in some circumstances. For example, health problems could hinder one's ability to perform the one-leg stand -- a test in which one must balance on one foot while counting. Those who have balance problems or leg injuries may struggle with this test even when sober.

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