VIDEO: Bay Area company develops breathalyzer that can help detect whether or not someone is driving while high

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OAKLAND (KRON) — Recreational marijuana use was passed by California voters last November.

Once it is officially legal next year, one of the biggest issues facing California is the potential for an increase in drugged driving.

One Bay Area company says they’ve developed a breathalyzer that can help law enforcement detect whether or not someone driving while high.

KRON4’s Maureen Kelly shows the video of a recent road test, which shows what happens once someone under the influence of weed gets behind the wheel.

The woman behind the wheel is helping the Oakland-based Hound Lab test its new breathalyzer.

She and two male test subjects drove freeway speeds on the 1-mile course on Alameda’s Naval Air Station. Obstacles meant to mimic the challenges of highway driving were added.

They all first drove sober with no problem, and then were asked to toke up.

And a half hour later, they were tested with the device that detects the levels of THC, the mind altering ingredient in pot, in people’s breath.

The ER doctor turned entrepreneur says because pot is processed by the body longer than alcohol, it can be detected in blood and urine tests long after the smoker has sobered up.

So, law enforcement needs a new tool to help catch drugged drivers and to keep from wrongly arresting responsible pot heads.

“We provide the objective data that says yes that person smoked in the last couple of hours and very well could be impaired,” Dr. Mike Lynn said. “And same for an employer. Are they going to fire everyone that gets drug tested and is THC positive? That’s a lot of people in this state now, so instead, what they really need to know was whether someone is impaired not whether they smoke pot at home the night before. Our device allows that.”

After their THC levels were documented, the driver was let loose on the road with a professional driver by their side. And that’s when the trouble started.

The company behind the testing ended up with a dented car and some scary test results.

Even the drivers with THC levels on the low side made fatal mistakes on the roadway.

“What was most compelling and frightening frankly is that all three drivers hit the bicyclists in the construction zone,” Dr. Lynn said. “They would have killed that cyclist”

The company says they plan to conduct more tests to try and narrow down what level of THC in the breath makes stoners unsafe to drive.

They are planning to have the Hound breathalyzer ready to roll out for commercial use at the end of the year.WHAT OTHERS ARE CLICKING ON:

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