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Will "Potalyzer" Help Deter Drugged Driving?

This November, California voters will decide whether the state should legalize recreational marijuana. Amid concerns about an uptick in drugged driving, researchers at Stanford University have developed a device capable of detecting the presence of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

As we have previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, drugged driving is a growing safety concern. In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers found that approximately 20 percent of drivers tested positive for at least one drug. A California study found more than one quarter (26.5 percent) of drivers testing positive for marijuana also tested positive for at least one other drug.

Marijuana use by California drivers is expected to increase if the drug is legalized, yet law enforcement still does not have a quick and reliable way to determine if drivers are impaired. However, a solution could be on the way.

According to a Stanford University press release, researchers repurposed magnetic nanotechnology, previously used to screen for cancer, to create a device that detects THC molecules in saliva. Stanford touts the device as a practical “potalyzer” because it can quickly detect not just the presence of THC, but also measure its concentration.

“Researchers… have zeroed in on saliva because testing it is less invasive and because THC in saliva may correlate with impairment better than THC in urine or blood,” the news release stated.

As San Diego injury lawyers, we are encouraged that police may soon have effective tools to determine whether Californians are driving under the influence. We will also be closely following legislation that would set the legal limit at 5 nanograms per milliliter.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a California car accident caused by a drugged driver, don’t hesitate to contact a personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation. Relying on more than 30 years of legal experience, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of California injury victims.