April 18, 2016 By Wallin & Klarich

California is one of a small number of states that allows for the use of medical marijuana. This may lead some marijuana users to feel more comfortable driving while under the effects of marijuana. As efforts to further legalize marijuana in California continue, some lawmakers want to use a new method to catch the growing number of drivers under the influence of marijuana. medical_marijuana_dispensaries.html

Senate Bill 1462, authored by Republican Senator Bob Huff, is a proposed law that would introduce a new method for law enforcement to instantly test drivers for marijuana during DUI stops. The bill would allow law enforcement officers to use an oral swab drug screening test on drivers if there is probable cause the driver is impaired and the driver has also failed sobriety tests.

Accuracy of the Swab Test

To test for the presence of marijuana, police would use an oral swab on the driver and a hand-held electronic device that tests oral fluid. The test is also used to detect the presence of cocaine, amphetamines and pain medications, including opiates.

The swab tests are not accurate enough to replace the more complicated blood and urine tests law enforcement currently uses to test for drugs, but they are much more portable and instant. Swab tests wouldn’t be accurate enough to tell the exact concentration of THC or other illegal and legal substances in a person’s body. However, Senator Huff says that the oral swab tests are the quickest way to test for drugs like marijuana at a DUI stop.

Those who oppose the bill say that swab testing is an unproven method and that there is no evidence of swab test results correlating to driving impaired under the influence of marijuana. However, swab results were admitted as evidence by a judge in Kern County in the first successful prosecution using the test. The tests were also used by police departments in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fullerton, and Sacramento in 2013 and 2014. Those who support the bill hope authorization of the test would allow it to be used in more locations.

How the Bill Can Pass

Senate Bill 1462 will be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee soon. Currently, it is backed by the California Police Chiefs Association and the California Narcotic Officers Association. For the bill to pass, it would need a majority vote when it is heard by the Committee. Last year, a similar bill didn’t pass because it was opposed by medical marijuana advocates. It isn’t known if this bill will face similar opposition.

Regardless if the bill passes, law enforcement may pull you over based on probable cause or reasonable suspicion. In California, you give your consent to a blood or breath test when you drive a vehicle, but that only detects alcohol. The swab test is currently meant to target those under the influence of marijuana and other drugs.

Contact a DUI Attorney at Wallin & Klarich

If you are facing DUI charges, you need a defense attorney that will help you understand the legal process and protect your rights. At Wallin & Klarich, our DUI attorneys have over 30 years of experience serving our clients and giving them the best representation.

With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina and Sherman Oaks, you can find a dedicated Wallin & Klarich attorney no matter your location.

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