Police are expanding the use of a roadside saliva test statewide for drivers suspected to be under the influence of drugs. This expanded use of the test coincides with the legalization of recreational marijuana. The roadside saliva test began as part of a one-year pilot program in five Michigan counties.
Roadside Saliva Tests
These saliva tests are similar to the preliminary breath test (PBT) given to drivers suspected of drinking alcohol. A positive test will give the police officer cause to arrest the person for drugged driving. Like the PBT, the test needs to be confirmed by a more reliable test – which means a blood test.
The saliva test is designed for limited types of drugs – amphetamines, benzodiazepines, marijuana, methamphetamines, and opiates. The big one police are looking for is marijuana.
Michigan voters have approved the use of legal marijuana. Police expect to see an increase in the number of drivers who use marijuana. The majority of positive tests in the pilot program are for marijuana.
Success Rate of Test?
Last year during the pilot program, 92 people were given the saliva test. Of the 92 people, 74 of them tested positive for marijuana. Later blood testing confirmed that only 63 of the 74 people had marijuana in this system. Blood tests is the most accurate form of testing.
What does that mean exactly? This means 11 people who tested positive for marijuana with the roadside test did not have marijuana in their system. That’s a large error rate.
Pilot Program Expanded
The roadside saliva drug tests started as a pilot program in Michigan. Five counties originally tried them out, including Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair, and Washtenaw Counties. Police want to continue use of the test statewide to combat drivers high on marijuana. Read the ArborYpsi Law article on the Pilot Program.
There has been an increase in the number of Michigan traffic crashes for drivers with marijuana in their system. There were 78 marijuana-related traffic crashes in 2013. In 2017, that number was 169. In 2013, 70 of those were fatalities and in 131 of them were fatalities in 2017.
Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Ann Arbor.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.