Connecticut has strict laws that address impaired driving and protect victims of impaired driving accidents. However, proving a driver was under the influence of marijuana or other drugs may be challenging. Law enforcement officials typically use a Breathalyzer test to reveal a driver’s blood alcohol concentration. If his or her BAC is over .08 percent, officers will file drunk driving charges. However, with Connecticut decriminalizing marijuana use — even only in small quantities — and more and more people using medical marijuana, how will authorities determine cannabis impairment?

At this time, there is no instrument that allows for roadside testing for marijuana. For that reason, law enforcement may call for a trained Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) to subject the driver to a Drug Influence Evaluation (DIE) if a field sobriety test causes suspicion of drug impairment. Tell-tale signs may include abnormal blood pressure, red eyes and unusual pupil size.

What will the DRE determine?

The two scenarios that may involve the services of DREs include an arrest made by the DRE or the expert assisting in an impaired driving investigation after another officer made the arrest. If police suspect a driver of drug impairment, the specialist will likely conduct the evaluations at the police station or another controlled environment rather than at the roadside. The following three aspects of sobriety or impairment will be evaluated during a diagnostic examination:

  • Is the vehicle operator impaired? — If the DRE determines that the driver is impaired, he or she will evaluate the person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
  • What caused the impairment? — The DRE will ascertain the reasons for the impairment — it could be an illness, injury or medical condition. However, if it is drug-related, further tests will follow.
  • Which drugs are involved? — The next step will be to establish the categories of drugs that caused the individual’s impairment.

What does the testing involve?

The duration of a drug evaluation test will be about an hour. The DRE will assess and evaluate the driver’s behavior and appearance before measuring and recording the vital signs and checking his or her automatic reactions and responses. A psychophysical test will form part of the evaluation during which the DRE will test the person’s judgment and ability to process information along with other characteristics such as coordination. In a systematic order, the specialist will consider all issues that could indicate drug impairment.

If you are suspecting that a driver impaired by marijuana or other drugs rather than alcohol caused an accident that left you suffering the consequences of injuries, you may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit in a civil court. However, these cases can be quite complex, and you might have many questions about your rights and the most appropriate way to establish negligence. An experienced personal injury attorney can answer questions and provide any support and guidance you might need.