Facts about driving under influence of marijuana

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - In July 2017, Nevada became the fifth state in the country to legalize recreational marijuana. What’s still illegal is driving under the influence.

Lt. Brian Zana with the Nevada Highway Patrol says getting a DUI under the influence of marijuana or alcohol makes no difference; the repercussions are the same.

"It's going to cost you the same attorney, it's going to cost you your job possibly. You have to treat it the same way. It's the same type of risks you’re taking with getting into a crash and potentially hurting someone, yourself, or God forbid creating a fatality on the roadways."

Although a breathalyzer can't detect if a driver is high on marijuana, there are other field sobriety tests that help troopers determine whether a person is driving under the influence of any legal or illegal drug.

Zana adds one of the most common tools used is the convergence test.

"So you start your finger in a circle, a big circle, and then bring it into their nose and with marijuana users if they are heavily impaired, not only will they have a lack of convergence, but where their eyes will cross. They'll actually have one eye that will cross and the other one will actually go the other direction. It's a very unusual look."

Most of the tests used on site don't measure the amount of THC in a driver’s blood.

"It's not so much a number with marijuana, you know, the two nanograms. Yes, that is the legal limit, but if we can see signs of impairment through FSTs (field sobriety test) that's probable cause to arrest an individual for DUI."

If you're headed out to celebrate News Year’s, Zana says instead of driving take advantage of ride sharing.

"Please just safely get home and use your head. Don't take a risk that you don't need to."

NHP is joining forces statewide through January 1 to specifically search for drivers under the influence. Zana says extra personnel will be on duty and drivers should expect triple the number of authorities on the road.