Mass. Judge: Officers’ observations enough to arrest driver for OUI of marijuana

Julie Gaudreau and her colleagues at DelSignore Law have voiced their concerns with a Massachusetts court ruling that upholds police officers’ right to arrest drivers for driving under the influence of marijuana – based solely on their observations.

“Those are concerning because when they’re put into evidence that somebody’s under the influence of marijuana, when it could’ve just been use of marijuana, we don’t have the scientific data to support that,” she says.

The effects of marijuana vary from person to person, she says, and for some symptoms, there’s a grey area. For example, a driver’s eyes could be red if someone used marijuana, but she says it doesn’t necessarily he or she is impaired.

Unlike alcohol, there’s no sobriety test or breathalyzer that can prove whether someone’s impaired due to marijuana.

“You have to consume enough to decrease your alertness, and ability to respond,” she says.

Under the ruling, officers can use their observations to make arrests, but to convict, prosecutors need more than just officer testimony.

Still, that’s not stopping police departments from doing their best. They’re hoping to train more DRE’s, or drug recognition experts, to detect the signs of drugged driving. Their testimony typically holds more weight in court.

The problem – not every community has enough.

Dartmouth tells ABC6 they have two DRE’s, which is sufficient for them. But Fall River, Attleboro and Taunton have none.

©WLNE-TV 2019