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Michigan's roadside drug testing pilot to expand to all state counties

Michigan State Police

Michigan is expanding its roadside drug testing pilot program from five counties to a statewide program, and it is extending it for one more year, beginning Tuesday, October 1.

"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," Lt. Col. Richard Arnold, commander of MSP's Field Operations Bureau, said in a MSP press release. "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."

The MSP press release said the sample size from the initial pilot is too small to form "definitive conclusions."

Under the pilot, police officers known as "drug recognition experts," who are specially trained in identifying drivers impaired by drugs, can make a driver submit to a roadside drug test of the driver's saliva.

According to First Lt. Shannon Sims, commander of MSP Narcotics Enforcement Section, officers must first suspect the driver is impaired by drugs based on the driver's behavior and on field sobriety tests. 

"The officer can swab the individual's mouth and insert it into the instrument," said Sims. "And within about five minutes, it will give an indication if the person has a substance in their system or not."

"If the officer requests you to take the oral fluid roadside test and you refuse," said Sims. "It's a $100 civil infraction and driver's license sanctioning." 

According to the MSP,  the oral fluid roadside test instrument tests for the  presence of six drugs: amphetimines, benzodiazepines, cannabis (delta 9THC), cocaine, methamphetamines and opiates.

"It doesn't show the quantity," said Sims. "It shows just the presence."

The MSP said Michigan has seen a steady increase over the last several years in the number of fatal crashes involving drivers impaired by drugs, and in 2018, there were 247 drug-involved traffic fatalities.

The initial one year Oral Fluid Roadside Analysis pilot program covered Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair, and Washtenaw counties and ended in November, 2018. It was established by Public Act 242 and 243 of 2016.

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