Model jury instruction regarding roadside assessments for use in prosecutions for operating under the influence of marijuana

From Appendix: Comm. v. Gerhardt, 477 Mass. 775 (2017)

Table of Contents

Model jury instruction

You heard testimony in this case that the defendant, at the request of a police officer, performed or attempted to perform various roadside assessments, such as [Here outline the nature of the evidence, e.g., walking a straight line, balancing on one foot]. These roadside assessments are not scientific tests of impairment by marijuana use. A person may have difficulty performing these tasks for many reasons unrelated to the consumption of marijuana.

It is for you to decide if the defendant's performance on these roadside assessments indicate that his [her] ability to operate a motor vehicle safely was impaired. You may consider this evidence solely as it relates to the defendant's balance, coordination, mental clarity, ability to retain and follow directions, ability to perform tasks requiring divided attention, and other skills you may find are relevant to the safe operation of a motor vehicle.

It is for you to determine how much, if any, weight to give the roadside assessments. In making your determination, you may consider what the officer asked the defendant to do, the circumstances under which they were given and performed, and all of the other evidence in this case.

Finally, evidence of how a defendant performed in roadside assessments, standing alone, is never enough to convict a defendant of operating under the influence of marijuana.


Comm. v. Gerhardt, 477 Mass. 775 (2017)


Date published: September 19, 2017

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