On January 6th, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held a hearing to review the details of a case that could have drastic consequences for drivers stopped while under the influence of marijuana. Its central question: Does failure to adequately perform each component of the field sobriety test mean that a driver is too impaired to drive?
How We Got Here
Nearly three years ago, Thomas Gerhardt was pulled over in Millbury for driving a car with no rear lights. When the Massachusetts state trooper smelled marijuana, Mr. Gerhardt was asked to perform the standard field sobriety tests, two of which — balancing on one leg for 30 seconds and turning around after taking nine steps — he failed to execute. Mr. Gerhardt did, however, successfully count backwards and recite portions of the alphabet.
First of Its Kind
Mr. Gerhardt’s case is a first for the Supreme Judicial Court. With marijuana having been legalized only last fall — and with no breathalyzer-type test available to gauge the amount of weed consumed by Massachusetts drivers — we’re all in a bit of a gray area when it comes to pot and OUI convictions. Make sure to refer to our blog page for updates regarding Mr. Gerhardt’s case and our state’s fledgling experiment with recreational marijuana.