Our criminal justice system currently depends primarily upon the opinions of police officers to determine whether a driver is “driving stoned” — that is, unable to safely operate a vehicle due to marijuana impairment. The main tool used to formulate this opinion is the same as that used for driving under the influence of alcohol: field sobriety tests. These highly subjective roadside “tests”, administered and interpreted by cops with minimal training, are coming under increasing scrutiny — as reflected in a recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court:
Roadside Drunken Driving Tests Not Valid for Pot
Boston, MA. Sept 19 – The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that field sobriety tests typically used in drunken driving cases cannot be used as conclusive evidence that a motorist was operating under the influence of marijuana.
The Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday said police officers could testify only to their observations about how a person performed during a roadside test.
But they would not be allowed to testify as to whether a person passed or failed such a test or offer their own opinions about whether a driver was too high to drive.
The justices said there is currently no reliable scientific test for marijuana impairment.
Without field sobriety tests, the only other evidence of impairment (besides a cop’s subjective opinion) is a blood test. This, however, has also been shown to be unreliable. See, for example, Can DUI Marijuana Be Detected or Measured?,
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