Cobb County Police Chief Michael Register issued a statement today regarding the controversial policy under which drivers were charged with DUI despite testing negative for marijuana.
Register released the following statement on the Cobb County Police Department website, which outlines a change in policy:
The issue of marijuana and impairment is an extremely complex topic. In essence, the impairment that drug recognition experts identify is based on a concentration of THC in the brain. Peak effects of brain THC concentrations do not coincide with maximum bloodstream concentrations. A driver will still be impaired by the THC that is in his brain well after it is undetectable at an impairing level in the bloodstream. Due to the rapid decrease in the bloodstream and the time lag from traffic stop to taking a blood sample, it has sometimes resulted in a concentration of THC that is below the threshold of GBI Lab Standards, thereby yielding a negative results. This issue is specific to marijuana only and applies to no other drugs.
In order to achieve the goal of keeping our citizens safe by removing an impaired driver from the streets and strike a balance to account for potential negative lab results, a new protocol has been established. In regards to an arrest for DUI drugs (marijuana), the driver will be taken into custody after probable cause is established and transported to the hospital for a blood sample. On some occasions they may be transported to a Precinct, where a contracted vendor will come and take a sample of blood per the Georgia Implied Consent warning given to the driver. In the case of a DRE evaluation revealing impairment of marijuana only, the driver will be charged with DUI and any other traffic related offenses relating to the stop, and then released on a copy of citation after finding alternative transportation. The collected sample will be sent to the GBI Crime Lab for testing. After the courts receive the blood sample results from the GBI Crime Lab and a review of the totality of the situation pertaining to the traffic stop, the Solicitor will make a determination if the case goes forward.