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Will Breathalyzers Be Able to Detect Drugs Too?

Many states, including Maryland, have laws against driving under the influence of drugs.  But currently there is no equipment to test it on the road.  New research may change that.

Police officers have been using roadside breathalyzers to test a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for decades.  However, to date, there has been no roadside device to test for driving under the influence of drugs.

A newly designed Swedish breathalyzer test can detect drugs as well as alcohol.

Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden collaborated to create a breathalyzer device that can detect 12 different controlled substance, including cocaine, heroin, morphine, and marijuana.

The results from the study were published in the April 2013 edition of Journal of Breath Research.  The findings confirmed that these drugs were detectable on subject’s breath for up to 24 hours.  Furthermore, the drug breathalyzer device accurately detected drug use 87% of the time.

Although the study is good news for law enforcement and bad news for drug offenders, it still leaves much to be determined in the legal arena.

Further research would have to be conducted in order to establish a correlation between the concentration of illegal CDS in the bloodstream and behavioral impairment.  In the future, it may be necessary to establish a threshold, much like the .08 BAC limit. 

Until now, the ability to determine if someone had been driving under the influence of drugs was limited to performing blood tests at the police station or through an extensive examination conducted by a specifically trained Drug Reconstruction Expert.

For more information about driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol please contact Andy Alperstein, or Christopher P. Wheatcroft at Alperstein & Diener.