NILES, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – Michigan State Police officers are conducting roadside saliva tests on suspected drug-impaired motorists as part of a program spurring questions about the tests’ accuracy.
MSP says the “Preliminary Oral Fluid Analysis program” — which launched in five Michigan counties on November 8 — uses a portable saliva-testing device that can tell officers if a driver has certain drugs in his system, such as marijuana, methamphetamine, opiates and cocaine.
Michigan Medical Marijuana Association president Michael Komorn, an attorney, says he’s concerned about the tests’ accuracy and the program’s experimental nature.
State Police Special First Lt. Jim Flegel tells the South Bend Tribune that specially-trained troopers must have a reason to suspect impairment before testing a driver. He stressed that the tests will not be conducted at random, won’t be used at sobriety checkpoints, and that state of Michigan is not collecting drivers’ DNA from the saliva swabs.
Approved in legislation passed in Lansing last year, the $150,000 pilot program aims to combat an increase in fatal crashes caused by drug-impaired drivers. Over the last several years, the MSP says Michigan has seen a steady increase in fatal crashes involving drivers impaired by drugs.
The program is currently underway in Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties where police will collect data on the accuracy of the test and number of arrests, and report back to the legislature after a year.
Drivers refusing to submit to the test will be subject to a civil infraction. [Learn more about the tests here].
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