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N.J. Cops Prepare for Weed Legalization by Training to Detect Drugged Drivers

July 31, 2018

Marijuana Use in New JerseyWith the legalization of weed likely down the road, New Jersey police stations are now training their officers to detect high drivers.  Since the testing for most illegal substances on the road is unreliable, this training is especially important to implement.

How Are Drivers Tested for Marijuana Usage in New Jersey?

Unlike alcohol, marijuana does not have a test that can truly determine if someone is currently under the influence of a substance or not.  There is no magical weed breathalyzer.  What makes matters worse is the more accurate testing, such as a blood sample, are often unfair as weed can stay in the body for up to a month as metabolites (small particles that the body uses to digest a substance).

Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco introduced a bill in Morris County to try to make blood samples a requirement for anyone arrested for potential drug use.  However, due to the complications with these metabolites, it may be challenging to implement.

There is one idea that is starting to catch on that involves the use of on-site oral swabbing.  It is becoming more commonplace in states like Kentucky, Oklahoma, and California. This technique is more efficient, less invasive, and more informative of more recent marijuana use over blood work techniques.

There are three types of training levels that are currently used all over North America: Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST), Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement Program (ARIDE), and the Drug Evaluation and Classification program (DEC).

SFST is the lowest level that can only test some behavior and body movements such as walking a line, touching parts of your face with your forefinger, or making statements.  This isn’t very reliable, but can give hints to officers.

ARIDE involves an additional 16 hours of training for officers to learn to identify signs of impairment resulting from a wide variety of substances.  It is a transition point between the SFST and DEC programs and not the most advanced.

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The best program out there is the DEC program.   This program was created in the 1950s in Los Angeles, CA and involves a 12-step evaluation.  For marijuana usage, this can include things like strange odors, bloodshot eyes, face and body tremors and involuntary movements, overly uncaring attitudes, lethargy, etc.

“The issue with the DEC program is that it often leads to false arrests and has serious reliability issues,” claims researchers from The Fifth Estate.  Often, people can have many other health factors involved or the police can show bias that can cause unfair arrests or inaccurate diagnosis.

With all of this in mind, police departments in New Jersey are going well out of their way to train their police officers.  They are using the most advanced program, the DEC, to turn their officers into Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). So far, over 400 officials have been trained, and another 80 are currently being trained in locations that have no DREs.  New Jersey is considered the second most trained in the country.

They combine results from the 12-step evaluation with medical testing such as urine or blood.  Further testing occurs if enough evidence is present from the initial DRE evaluation. It takes a combination of analysis from well trained experts and scientific testing to come to the fairest conclusion if someone deserves a DUI charge.

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Schedule a Consultation With a New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer

Stuck with a DUI charge?  Been arrested for a drug crime?  Criminal defense attorney Michele Finizio specializes in both and is here to help.  Michele will help get your sentence reduced and provide you with a defense service you can trust.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to her for any questions you have and to get the help you need.  Her law office can be reached at 856-888-9059.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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