It started just a couple of days ago. In five counties around the state the Michigan State Police’s roadside drug test pilot program began. Which means that right now in Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties right here in The Great Lakes State, officers can drug test you right on the side of the road! So how does it work?
If you’re pulled over in any of the five counties where the one-year MSP pilot is currently running, and the officer suspects that you’re driving under the influence of drugs, they can administer a roadside drug test. This involves taking an oral fluid sample with a mouth swab. The saliva sample will be tested right then to detect if a driver has consumed any illicit substances. In addition to the sample, which will provide results in minutes, the officer will also conduct a 12 step drug evaluation.
According to the Michigan State Police, in 2016 there were 236 drug-involved traffic fatalities, which they say is a 32% increase from 2015’s 179 drug-involved traffic fatalities. Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP, says that “Motorists under the influence of drugs pose a risk to themselves and others on the road. With drugged driving on the rise, law enforcement officers need an effective tool to assist in making these determinations during a traffic stop.”
The program is a response to the steady increase of drugged driving incidents, and fatal crashes involving drug-impaired drivers, says the MSP. However, there will be challenges in getting the program off the ground. Specifically, in order for an officer to conduct the 12 step evaluation, they have to be trained as Drug Recognition Expert (DRE).
Obviously, not every Michigan State Police trooper has this training. That means they would then be required to wait at the scene until a DRE trained officer can arrive and conduct the evaluation. The pilot will be added to the already existing 12 step program that is used to determine whether or not someone is under the influence of drugs. The 12 steps DREs use to give an opinion about whether or not a person is under the influence of drugs include:
- taking a person’s vital signs repeatedly over a period of time,
- checking their eyes to see if their pupils are pinpoints or dilated,
- observations of speech patterns, and
- behavior and muscle tone checks.
The five counties chosen by the MSP for this pilot were selected because they had the highest number of drug-related arrests, impaired driving accidents, and DREs available. After the year long pilot is complete, all of the data will be assessed, and our state police will have to determine if it’s cost effective to expand the DRE program throughout the state. This would mean training considerably more officers as DREs to administer the saliva swab test.
We’ll be keeping a lookout for how this drug testing program affects Michigan drivers, and what the results are as they progres. Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of driving under the influence of narcotics, drugs or alcohol, you’re going to need an experienced and aggressive attorney on your side, fighting to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact our defense team today at 866-766-5245. We’re here to help.