It’s become the Holy Grail in DUI circles; in other words, it’s the thing everyone is seeking, but no one is sure it can be found. It’s a quick, easy, and reliable breath test to determine if a driver is intoxicated on marijuana. The most recent seekers in this Grail search are at Washington State University. Researchers there are developing a breathalyzer that detects tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana. Whether or not they are successful, one thing is sure; if you’re charged with DUI in southern California, whether you’re accused of drinking, smoking pot, or consuming some other intoxicant, you’re going to need legal help fast. If this happens to you, call an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney immediately.

Washington State University chemistry professor Herbert Hill believes that current techniques and technologies used by customs agents and airport security agents to detect drugs can be converted to detect the THC in someone’s breath. Hill is working on a handheld device that uses a technique called ion mobility spectrometry to detect THC. Currently, officers can only determine if THC is present in the blood by drawing a blood sample, and the mere presence of THC does not by itself indicate intoxication. THC can remain in the system for weeks, long after the user is once again completely sober.

That’s the problem with Professor Hill’s theoretical breathalyzer and the other prospective THC breathalyzers in development. The presence of THC simply is not evidence of intoxication. Nevada is one state that’s possibly taking a different route. Some Nevada lawmakers want to throw out THC testing altogether in favor of “performance-based” testing that would be similar to field sobriety tests for alcohol intoxication. For now, in southern California, if you’re charged with DUI for any reason, call an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney at once, and get the legal help that you’re very much going to need.