PARLIER, Calif. - Law enforcement agencies across the state are putting new drug detection technology to the test. Lawmakers said with the legalization of recreational pot, this new technology is needed more than ever.
Parlier Police Officer Dan Barcellos has taken a lot of impaired drivers to jail. Some of the giveaways: "When I was talking to him, I could see he had red, watery, blood shot eyes, and a glaze over him," said Barcellos.
For alcohol, officers can use a breathalyzer. But for drugs, it's a bit harder. Most law enforcement agencies don't have a device to instantly tell if a driver is under the influence of drugs. Barcellos said it's concerning especially with the passage of Proposition 64, the legalization of recreational marijuana in California.
"We've seen an increase in drivers driving with marijuana in their system," he said.
But, new technology is right around the corner. Lawmakers, and the CHP gathered outside the capitol to demonstrate a new drug detection device. The handheld device tests for up to six different drugs, both illegal and prescription.
All it needs is a sample of saliva and will have results within minutes.
"What this tool provides is a confirmation that there is some level of drug in the system and that helps fortify their suspicion," said Assemblyman Tom lackey, R-Palmdale.
Pro-medical marijuana lawyer, Brenda Linder argues there are a lot of loopholes.
Right now, there are no legal standards in place for drugged driving. Even the new saliva test only indicates recent use of the drug, and there is no legal limit for the amount of THC that would indicate a driver is impaired.
"There are heavy users that have used cannabis for a long time, and used it frequently, and in high dosages that can have a lot of THC in their system without being impaired or intoxicated," said lawyer, Brenda Linder.
Only select law enforcement agencies are testing the device, which include departments in Kern, Sacramento and Los Angeles counties. Studies reportedly show spikes in impaired driving in states that have legalized recreational marijuana.