New gadget tests for drugs during roadside traffic stop

MICHIGAN - State and local police are unrolling a new way to identify drivers under the influence of drugs in five counties throughout Michigan.

The Oral Fluid Roadside Analysis Pilot Program will start November 8th, using new technology able to test saliva for six categories of drugs during traffic stops within five minutes. Police say the non-invasive test will be used by police certified as Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) in Kent, Berrien, Delta, Washtenaw, and St. Clair counties.

“So the ‘DREs’ participating in this program will swab the inside of a person’s mouth, and they will insert that swab into the test instrument, and within five minutes this instrument will give a positive or negative reading,” said Lt. Jim Flegal with Michigan State Police.

Lt. Flegal says the test is much like a breathalyzer, and will be carried by 26 DREs able to test people suspected of driving under the influence of drugs. The oral swabs can test for six categories; Amphetamine, Benzodiazepines, Cannabis, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, and Opiates.

The pilot program beings Wednesday, November 8th. Pilot counties were chosen based on several criteria, including the number of impaired driving crashes, impaired drivers arrested and the number of trained drug recognition experts in each county.

“In 2016, there were 236 fatal driving crashes involving impaired drivers on drugs,” Lt. Flegal said. “In 2015, there were 179 fatal crashes, which is a 32% increase.”

If a person refuses to give a fluid swab, police will detain you and request a warrant for a blood sample. Lt. Flegal says it’s a civil infraction to decline giving a sample.

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