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Michigan State Police Launch Roadside Saliva Drug Testing

The problem is that the saliva test cannot determine impairment, only the existence of a substance in saliva and just because the test may be positive, it doesn’t mean the person is impaired.

Roadside saliva testing is now a thing in Michigan

In more weed news from Michigan, officials are experimenting with testing drivers for driving under the influence of drugs. The Michigan State Police began an experimental one-year program that attempts to determine whether a driver is under the influence. Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw Counties will be part of the program.

Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) police officers with special training will enforce the program. The DRE will submit a preliminary saliva analysis using a mouth swab for drivers they suspect are driving under the influence. The Alere DDS2 oral fluid test instrument is designed to detect, amphetamines, methamphetamines, benzodiazepines, cocaine, opiates and marijuana within 5 minutes.

Michigan had 236 drug-involved traffic fatalities in 2016, a 32 percent increase from the previous year, and law enforcement and legislatures hope to lower that number with the new program. The problem is that the saliva test cannot determine impairment, only the existence of a substance in saliva and just because the test may be positive, it doesn’t mean the person is impaired. The person could have medicated several hours earlier or the night before. Michigan State Police First Lt. Jim Flegel admits that the saliva test tells police if the drug is present, but it can’t determine if they are impaired. If a driver does not agree to the test once they are pulled over, they will be subject to a civil infraction.

Niko Mann is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles, California.

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