By Scott Bolthouse—The Huron Hub
Posted Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019
Michigan State Police are launching the second phase of oral roadside drug testing pilot program starting Tuesday.
Under the pilot program, a drug recognition expert (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.
DREs are police officers who have received 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 are also involved.
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.
The oral fluid test instrument tests for the presence of the following drugs: amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cannabis (delta 9 THC), cocaine, methamphetamines and opiates.
“This additional, statewide data will help to determine the usefulness of this tool for law enforcement, as we work to get drug-impaired drivers off Michigan’s roads,” said Lt. Col. Richard Arnold, commander of MSP’s Field Operations Bureau. “Roadside oral fluid testing continues to show promise and by expanding this pilot, we’ll have a larger body of results by which to determine the tool’s effectiveness.”
MSP conducted a one-year oral fluid roadside analysis pilot program which concluded in November 2018, in five counties – Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw.
The initial pilot provided data on the performance of the oral fluid test instrument when coupled with law enforcement observed driver behavior and standardized field sobriety tests, but the overall sample size was too small to draw any definitive conclusions on the tool’s usefulness for law enforcement.
Refusal to submit to a preliminary oral fluid analysis upon lawful demand of a police officer is a civil infraction, according to MSP.
Over the last several years, Michigan has seen a steady increase in fatal crashes involving drivers impaired by drugs, according to MSP.
In 2018, there were 247 drug-involved traffic fatalities.