Marijuana Field Sobriety Tests

Now that marijuana is legal in Connecticut, its consumption is becoming more popular. As such, marijuana DUIs are also on the rise. On this page, you can learn what to expect if you are pulled over and suspected of marijuana DUI. We outline how a police officer suspects that a person is under the influence, tests that you might be asked to take, and more.


Not all DUIs are issued as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol. DUIs refer to driving under the influence of any drug. If you are accused of driving under the influence of marijuana, your situation will differ in some ways from a DUI related to alcohol. On this page, I will discuss the marijuana DUI in more detail. This will help you determine what you can expect from the DUI process, as well as how you can defend yourself.

Detecting Marijuana

Classic symptoms of driving under the influence of alcohol do not necessarily apply to driving under the influence of marijuana. Oftentimes, police officers use signs of impaired driving as a reason to pull someone over. Some common signs include:

  • Swerving into different lanes.
  • Driving too fast or too slow.
  • Driving on the curb.
  • Failure to stop at a stop light or stop sign.
  • Causing an accident.

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While these signs can sometimes indicate that a person is driving under the influence of alcohol, these signs do not necessarily apply to marijuana intoxication. 

Marijuana detection is very difficult unless a police officer stops you. Therefore, if a police officer tells you that you were pulled over because they suspect that you are under the influence of marijuana, this can be refuted in court. More appropriate reasons to pull you over might include an issue with your vehicle (such as having a tail light or headlight blow out), a DUI checkpoint, or an issue such as an accident or speeding. Then once you are pulled over, the police officer might suspect that you are under the influence given your appearance and behavior. 

Marijuana Tests

Marijuana detection can be much more difficult than alcohol detection. Unlike for alcohol issues, there currently is not a marijuana breathalyzer that can give a police officer an accurate reading. Some scientists are trying to create such a breathalyzer, but there are not accurate ones on the market today. 

Similarly, there are no standardized sobriety tests for marijuana like there are for alcohol. This means that police officers have to use tests that are not designed for marijuana detection or that are not accurate. For these reasons, such test results could be inadmissible in court. 

Finally, other types of drug testing, such as blood tests, can make it difficult to determine if a person was under the influence of marijuana while they were operating a vehicle. Unlike alcohol, marijuana can stay in a person’s bloodstream for days or even weeks. A test that proves that you have marijuana in your system might not necessarily prove that you were under the influence of marijuana. An attorney could accurately argue in court that you hadn’t smoked marijuana in days or even weeks before the incident. A positive drug test does not automatically mean a DUI conviction if you are facing a marijuana DUI.

Driving under the influence is most commonly associated with alcohol. But, under the influence refers to both drugs and alcohol. For this reason, you can get a DUI if you are under the influence of marijuana. But, it is not as easy to prove a marijuana DUI case as it is to prove an alcohol one. This is because marijuana doesn’t always show up during a breathalyzer exam. In order to be charged with a DUI, a police officer has to rely on field sobriety tests geared toward marijuana use. You should be aware of marijuana field sobriety tests used to determine if someone is under the influence of marijuana.

Proving Marijuana DUI

Marijuana DUI cases are difficult to prove. This is because there are tests that can prove that you are intoxicated. But, there are no immediate tests to measure THC levels. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana. If you have taken marijuana in the thirty days prior to your arrest, it will show up on a THC level test. This makes it hard to determine exactly when a driver took marijuana. It also makes it hard to determine how it affects driving abilities. Field sobriety tests are therefore a good option to use for determining marijuana DUIs. Still, these can be unreliable in court.

Balance and Coordination Tests

Police officers usually take you through several balance and coordination tests in order to determine your level of sobriety. You might be asked to perform tests such as balancing on one foot or walking in a straight line. But, these tests do not always stand up in court due to the fact that many factors can affect a driver’s balance. Furthermore, a police officer may not be able to see clearly depending on the time of day or weather.

Coordination tests can also be used if a police officer pulls you over and believes that you are not sober. Your dexterity will be evaluated based on tests such as your ability to touch your index finger to your nose with your eyes closed. These tests are also unreliable. They can be difficult to do even if you are sober. Many lawyers will be able to have the results of coordination tests thrown out of court.

Mental Tests

If a police officer is trying to determine your level of sobriety, they might also test your mental state. One test often used is asking you to recite the alphabet backwards. Again, this is a difficult test to do correctly even if you are sober, so it isn’t very accurate. If you fail a test that the police officer asks you to perform, this does not mean that your case is doomed. You still have a chance to prove your sobriety in court.

A police officer will also note your physical appearance when trying to determine if you are high or not. The officer might take red, puffy eyes to be a sign of drug use. But again, the results of such a test are extremely difficult to prove in court. A lawyer can argue that your eyes were red because you have allergies, you were tired that day, or you had been crying because you were upset about something.

It is difficult to prove a DUI based on drug use because field sobriety tests are unreliable. They can easily be dismissed from court if your DUI lawyer makes a solid case. If you have been arrested for a DUI under the suspicion of marijuana use, you should talk to a Connecticut DUI lawyer about your case.

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