According to a new ruling from the Supreme Judicial Court, field sobriety tests cannot be used in court against someone who is accused of driving under the influence of cannabis.
Field sobriety tests are not science
In the ruling issued on Tuesday, the court decided police officers cannot testify in court about the so-called “results” of field sobriety tests that are used when determining a person’s alcohol intoxication. However, officers are still allowed to testify as to a person’s characteristics during a traffic stop.
The decision stated it would not be proper for those tests to be used to determine whether a person is under the influence of weed, citing the lack of a scientific consensus on the effectiveness of field sobriety tests on people who have consumed cannabis.
Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael, who also happens to be an outspoken opponent of recreational weed, says,
The SJC is now saying based on the science, the standard field sobriety test that we use for alcohol, which we have used in the past for marijuana don’t correlate with the impairment side of it.
In the decision, the Supreme Judicial Court wrote that the jurors are permitted to use common sense when looking at the evidence. The decision also doesn’t exclude officers from conducting field sobriety tests but does say they can’t definitively answer the question.
Despite the ruling, it’s best to do what’s right when elevated, which is not getting behind the wheel.