New “Layer Cake” Chip is a Breathalyzer for Cocaine

A man pulled over by the police

When it comes to DUI and DWI, driving while intoxicated is illegal regardless of whether you are impaired as the result of alcohol, prescription medications, or illegal narcotics. In the past, however, it was extremely difficult for police officers to specifically prove that a person was driving under the influence of something other than alcohol, because there are no legally admissible portable tests to show drug or marijuana intoxication. If drug impairment is suspected, a police officer will typically need to obtain a warrant for a blood draw or urine sample, and the results of those tests can often be challenged in court by an experienced attorney.

Soon, that may not be the case – at least when it comes to cocaine detection. A new technology being developed by the University of Buffalo may bring police officers one step closer to having a “cocaine breathalyzer.” This device will be portable, so investigating officers will supposedly be able to quickly and reliably determine if someone is driving under the influence of cocaine.

Cocaine Breathalyzer Technology

The new technology will take the form of a chip comprised of different layers performing different functions in the form of drug analysis, leading to it being called an optical layer cake. The layers would include silver, aluminum oxide, and gold nanoparticles.

The chip would be built into a handheld device that would be used to extract any existing cocaine molecules from a biological sample, such as saliva in a breath sample, that would then get deposited on top of the chip. By then exposing the chip to a laser, the handheld computer would be able to determine if the particles on the chip are a match for cocaine. The creators of the technology believe that the same principles could be applied to other drugs, such as marijuana.
Current tests show that the chip is capable of detecting cocaine within minutes of exposure – much faster than a blood or urine test – and it is also inexpensive.

When Will We See the Technology?

The paper detailing the success of the technology was only published last week, so it will be some time before police officers will be using any type of drug breathalyzer based on layer cake technology in the field. That being said, more and more companies are working on similar technology all the time – including some technologies previously covered here on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog. In order for any new device to be implemented in New Jersey, it will need to pass rigorous testing standards. The State will also need to determine that the technology is reliable and affordable.

What This Means if You are Charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Since no drug breathalyzer exists currently, police officers in New Jersey will still be relying on blood tests and urine samples for the foreseeable future. If you or someone you know is charged with driving while intoxicated due to drugs, a good lawyer will be able to analyze the evidence against you and determine if police were justified to administering the test, if the test was properly conducted within an allowable time frame, and if the results are reliable based on numerous factors. Regardless of whether the evidence against you takes the form of old technology or new technology, an experienced attorney knows that nothing is reliable 100% of the time, and proving this in court could result in the charges against you being dismissed completely.

New Jersey DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Is Always Ready to Defend You

When it comes to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the law and technology are always changing. If you or someone you know is arrested, you will want to talk to a who is prepared to review the evidence against you and get any inadmissible evidence thrown out. A good attorney can make a big difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.