Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have announced a new tool to detect the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, THC, on a person’s breath. The university began developing the device in 2016 as more states legalized recreational pot.

Thirty-three states have legalized marijuana in some form, and there are several devices currently in development that could potentially help law enforcement detect marijuana on drivers. However, scientists and legal experts say none of the methods are ready for use.

Drugged driving charges in North Carolina

In the Tar Heel State, a person can be charged with driving while impaired (DWI) if officers believe they are under the influence of any impairing substance, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Controlled substances, including marijuana and opioids
  • Any drug that impairs a person’s mental or physical faculties
  • Any combination of these substances

Know what implied consent means if you are stopped

A driver suspected of DWI will be asked to comply with a breath test, a blood test, or both to determine whether drugs are present when they are pulled over. You have the right to refuse the test, but your license can be immediately revoked for 30 days, and an additional one-year suspension can be tacked on after a hearing, even if you are found not guilty in court.

Know your rights if charged with DWI

DWI conviction in North Carolina can bring fines ranging from $200 to $1,000 for a first-offense misdemeanor and sentences of 24 hours to six months in jail. Repeat offenders can be fined up to $4,000 and spend two years in jail for a Level I conviction. DWIs can also double or triple insurance rates in some cases, while some insurers may drop coverage entirely.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you fight a DWI charge. Your attorney will protect your rights by making sure the officer had probable cause to stop you, and that breath and field sobriety tests were administered properly. A successful challenge can lead to charges being reduced or dropped in some cases.