Field sobriety tests do not measure OUI of marijuana

Police officers conduct field sobriety tests on suspected drunk drivers in order for officers to get a sense of the driver's impairment from alcohol. The officer takes notes on such indicators as whether the driver's speech is slurred, or whether the driver is able to walk in a straight line, and then records an opinion as to whether the driver appears impaired. This is considered good evidence to show drunkenness, but is it an accurate measure of marijuana impairment? This was the question in front of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Council and the court has concluded that it cannot.

According to the court, officers cannot testify as to whether someone passed or failed a sobriety test, in addition to not offering an opinion on whether someone was too high to drive. Officers can only give their observations about how someone has responded to the test. These officers can testify in court as non-expert witnesses.

Driving under the influence is considered a crime in Massachusetts, whether under the influence of alcohol or marijuana, even though the recreational use of marijuana has been legalized in the state. This is why there is a sudden push towards finding a comparable test for marijuana use. Though some scientists believe a field sobriety test may indicate marijuana impairment, there is significant disagreement about it.

Even though the results of field sobriety tests can be correlated to blood alcohol content level, they are not always the final word on the matter. They can be challenged in court for various reasons, including improper administration of the test. Since a DUI charge is a serious one, it should be treated as such and fought aggressively from the onset. Even a subsequent DUI charge carries more severe penalties and can eventually result in license suspension.

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