Drivers usually understand that they might be asked to submit to a Breathalyzer or blood test if pulled over for suspected drunken driving, but a new program could have officers asking for something else. At least one Michigan county is launching a one-year program that allows officers to administer saliva tests during traffic stops. This could have serious implications for criminal defense plans.
Like drunk driving, state law forbids people from getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs. Until recently there were not any effective ways to test drivers during traffic stops, but evolving technology led to the signing of a new law in 2016. The Preliminary Oral Fluid Analysis law allows trained officers to administer saliva tests when they suspect a driver is engaged in drugged driving.
During a roadside test, a sponge is used to collect the driver’s saliva, which is then processed in minutes. Lawmakers claim that these results are not intended for use in court, but will instead provide guidance for officers who are unsure about making an arrest. If a driver tests positive and is arrested, he or she will then be asked to take a blood test, which can be used during court proceedings. Those who refuse the saliva test will likely receive a ticket for a civil infraction.
Roadside drug testing is still a new technology, the implications of which are unclear. However, it is possible that these tests could lead to more drugged driving and other drug-related arrests in Michigan. These types of charges are serious, and can have consequences ranging from lengthy jail time to steep fees. In most cases, it is a good idea to begin working on possible criminal defense options as early as possible, as this allows for more time to review all charges and related evidence.
Source: wzzm13.com, “Pilot program targets drivers who are high behind the wheel”, John Hogan, Nov. 3, 2017