Starting today, Nov 8, five Michigan counties will participate in a one-year oral fluid roadside drug testing pilot program developed by the Michigan State Police (MSP). The five counties piloting the test are Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw.
The pilot program will establish policies for the administration of roadside drug testing to determine whether an individual is operating a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance in violation of Michigan law.
Michigan has seen a steady increase in fatal crashes involving drivers impaired by drugs over the last few years. In 2016, there were 236 drug-involved traffic fatalities, which is an increase of 32 percent from 179 drug-involved traffic fatalities in 2015.
“Motorists under the influence of drugs pose a risk to themselves and others on the road,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, Director of the MSP. “With drugged driving on the rise, law enforcement officers need an effective tool to assist in making these determinations during a traffic stop.”
Why was Washtenaw chosen as one of the test areas you may wonder? The pilot counties were chosen based on several criteria, including the number of impaired driving crashes, impaired drivers arrested and trained Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) in the county.
DREs are police officers who have received highly specified training that allows them to identify drivers impaired by drugs. Although the pilot program is being organized and managed by the MSP, DREs employed by county, township and municipal police agencies will also be involved.
DRE’s will be carrying hand held devices that detect the presence of controlled substances in the driver’s saliva. In spite of carrying the tool, officers will still have to establish probable cause for impairment. They will not be randomly pulling people over, they will be looking for signs of possible impairment such as driving too fast, too slow, weaving, not using turn signals and other indicators.
The six drugs the device will detect are:
- Marijuana/Cannabis (THC)
Under the pilot program, a DRE may require a person to submit to a preliminary oral fluid analysis to detect the presence of a controlled substance in the person’s body if they suspect the driver is impaired by drugs. The preliminary oral fluid analysis will be conducted by a DRE on the person’s oral fluid, obtained by mouth swab, and will be administered along with the drug recognition 12-step evaluation currently used by DREs. Refusal to submit to a preliminary oral fluid analysis upon lawful demand of a police officer is a civil infraction.
You can watch a video of how it works here.