LANSING (WWJ) – Starting today, drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs may be pulled over by police as part of a new roadside drug testing program in five Michigan counties.
A one-year oral fluid roadside drug testing pilot program begins Wednesday, November 8 in Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties.
Under the pilot program, a DRE (a police officer who has received highly specified training that allows him or her to identify drivers impaired by drugs) may require a person to submit to a preliminary saliva 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 saliva, obtained by mouth swab, and will be administered along with the drug recognition 12-step evaluation currently used by DREs.
These tests are typically designed to detect common controlled substances including marijuana, amphetamines, methamphetamines, benzodiazepines, cocaine and opiates.
What is the purpose of the program?
Over the last several years Michigan has seen a steady increase in fatal crashes involving drivers impaired by drugs, according to police. In 2016, there were 236 drug-involved traffic fatalities, which is an increase of 32 percent from 179 drug-involved traffic fatalities in 2015.
Police say 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.
“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.”
The counties were chosen for the pilot program based on the number of impaired-driving crashes, impaired drivers arrested and the number of trained officers in the county, according to police.
Although the program — approved in legislation passed in Lansing last year — is being organized and managed by the MSP, DREs employed by county, township and municipal police agencies will also be involved.
Drivers refusing to submit to the test will be subject to a civil infraction.