Scientists at Washington State University are working to develop a breath test, similar to a breathalyzer, that would help law enforcement officers more quickly determine whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana.
Currently, officers must use blood tests to determine if THC is present in a driver’s blood, and the results are never immediate. WSU chemistry professor Herbert Hill said existing technologies like those used by TSA agents to detect drugs and explosives in real time on airline passengers can also be altered to test breath for THC, the News Tribune reported.
Mr. Hill said he and WSU doctoral student Jessica Tufariello are working on a handheld device that uses a technique called ion mobility spectrometry. They plan to develop a prototype this year, then start testing human breath between January and June of 2015, Mr. Hill told the News Tribune.
The Washington State Patrol said it welcomes anything that gets impaired drivers off the road.
Washington voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, and users driving while high has become an increasing concern. The number of suspected impaired drivers in Washington who tested positive for active THC rose from 18.6 percent to 25 percent for the first year legalization was in effect, the News Tribune reported.
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