Michigan’s Roadside Drug Testing Pilot Program is Now Going Statewide

There was a time in Michigan when a drug test for suspected drugged driving could only be done in a lab. But not anymore!

In November of 2017, the Michigan State Police launched our first ever roadside drug testing pilot program in five counties around Michigan. For about a year and a half now, in Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties, officers have been able to conduct drug tests on drivers right there on the side the road, the same way you could be breath tested for alcohol. But the pilot has come to an end, the results have been analysed, and now all of Michigan is fair game for roadside drug tests.

So what kind of test will they do on me?

The test itself is very simple. The device used by the MSP is an Abbott’s Alere™ DDS® Mobile Forensic Test System, which is handheld, much like a breathalyzer. It involves taking an oral fluid sample with a mouth swab (nothing painful or overly invasive). The saliva sample is tested right then by the officer to detect if you’ve consumed any illicit substances, including amphetamines, prescription drugs, weed, cocaine, meth and opioids. In addition to the oral sample, which will provide results in minutes, the officer will also conduct a 12 step drug evaluation, which involves looking for other signs of intoxication.

What does the 12 step drug evaluation include?

In order for an officer to conduct the evaluation, they have to be a trained Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). Not all MSP troopers are DREs, so if you get pulled over and the officer suspects you of taking drugs but they aren’t a trained DRE, you would have to wait on the roadside with the officer while a DRE is called to the scene to conduct the test. Once they arrive, the Drug Recognition Expert would check several things before giving their opinion about whether or not you’ve used drugs, and if so – which type of drug you took.

What signs do they look for during the 12 step evaluation?

There are several things an officer would do and look for during the 12 step evaluation, including:

  • Taking your vital signs repeatedly over a period of time, to see if your heart is racing, or slowing down, or if your blood pressure is spiking.
  • Checking your eyes to see if your pupils are contracted or dilated, and unresponsive to outside lights, which are both signs of being under the influence of certain drugs.
  • Observe your speech patterns, looking for signs of slurring, incoherent chatter, “word salad” and other signs of intoxication.
  • Your behavior, which is a key element. Behaviors like extreme aggression, lethargy, sudden mood swings, panic, or extreme drowsiness, can all be signs of drug intoxication.
  • Your muscle tone, which is affected by drug use, in that certain drugs cause involuntary muscle convulsions, and others cause slowed reflexes

What were the results of the pilot program?

During the pilot, 92 drivers suspected to being under the influence of drugs were tested using the handheld oral swabbing device. Of that total, 89 were arrested. And while MSP says that the roadside results correlated very well with the independent lab test results and the evidentiary blood test results done later, that wasn’t the case every time. Not all of the positive results officers got from the roadside machine were matched by positive results from more extensive testing later on. The pilot did reveal a few false positives!

Have you been accused of driving under the influence of drugs?

Wherever you live in Michigan, whether it’s Ingham, Clinton, Eaton, Livingston or any other county, being accused of drugged driving is serious! Between the financial costs, the effect on your reputation and the time behind bars, the losses are staggering! Which is why you’re going to need an experienced and aggressive drugged driving defense attorney on your side, fighting to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact our highly experienced defense team today at 866-766-5245 (866 7No Jail). We’re here to help just as we’ve been doing for a quarter century.

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