Roadside Drug Testing Pilot Program

March 20,2018

The Michigan State Police is in the process of choosing five counties to run a one-year pilot program for saliva-based testing to check drivers for drugs like marijuana, heroin and cocaine [1]. Officers will determine whether or not a driver is under the influence as part of a 12-step evaluation [2]. Other tests done will include anything from taking blood pressure to looking at your respiration. Officers will also look at your pupil size to see if they are pin-pointed or dilated [2]. Refusing the preliminary oral fluid analysis will result in a driver receiving a civil infraction.

The counties are expected to be finalized this summer, and the program to start sometime later in the year [1]. The criteria used in determining what counties will be selected includes: the number of impaired driving crashes, the number of impaired drivers arrested, and the number of Drug Recognition Experts trained in the county [1]. These experts, also known as Peace Officers, will be able to arrest a person, in whole or in part, upon the results of a preliminary oral fluid analysis.

Drivers will not be tested without probable cause and police officers must follow established policies and procedures, and have reasonable suspicion, to make traffic stops [3]. Critics of the pilot program say that, when it comes to marijuana, a saliva test is not an accurate means to determine impairment because marijuana causes a persons saliva-glands to dry up after inhaling the drug [4].

It is yet to be determined how a saliva test will show if the driver is impaired at the time of the stop, since impairment thresholds vary between manufacturers, and the test to be used has not been chosen [3].

Stay tuned to Rights First Law for more on this and other legal news.

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