Law Enforcement has a new tool to get impaired drivers off the roadways. In June 2016, the governor approved Act No 242 that allows trained law enforcement personnel to administer a roadside drug test to suspected impaired drivers in certain pilot counties. The saliva-swab test is designed to detect marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and meth. The Act takes effect Sept 22, 2016, although officials are currently in the process of selecting five counties to participate in the pilot program.
Roadside drug test pilot program
The Act calls for a one-year pilot program to work the bugs out. While the tests are generally reliable for detecting drugs, what is not clear is the accuracy of determining how long those drugs have been present and to what degree the user is experiencing impairment.
Michigan authorities are currently selecting five counties to participate in the pilot based on, “criteria including: the number of impaired driving crashes; the number of impaired drivers arrested; and the number of Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) trained in the county, [MSP spokeswoman Shanon Banner said],” according to Brad Devereaux in the July 15, 2016 article, “Michigan State Police picking counties for roadside drug testing pilot.”
Trained Drug Recognition Experts (DRE)
The law enforcement officer administering the swab test must be certified and trained as a “drug recognition expert.”
“According to the Office of Highway Safety Planning, as of February, Michigan had 99 Certified Drug Recognition Experts in 37 counties,” wrote Devereaux.
“Training includes 72 classroom hours plus homework and focuses on identifying people impaired by drugs, wrote Devereaux in the article titled, “Crashes involving drugs grow to decade high in Michigan, police say.”
A DRE must have “reasonable cause to believe that a person was operating a vehicle upon a highway or other place open to the public” or even a parking lot when under the influence of a controlled substance. Or the peace officer has cause to believe that “a person had in his or her body any amount of a controlled substance listed in schedule 1.”
Roadside Drug Test Results
The test results are an additional tool to assist the DRE in making a decision whether to arrest the motorist or not. The DRE may rely on drug testing solely or in conjunction with observed signs and other tests like the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.
Refusing the Roadside Drug Test
Citizens have the right to refuse to submit to a roadside drug test. The penalty is a civil infraction rather than a misdemeanor during the pilot program.
Why the new law?
“Crashes involving drugs went from 1,581 in 2006 to 2,215 in 2015, a 40 percent increase, Michigan State Police data cataloging UD-10 crash reports shows. Police say the increase is because of better-trained officers but also because drugged driving is on the rise in Michigan,” according to the article, “Crashes involving drugs grow to decade high in Michigan, police say,” by Brad Devereaux.
Cost of Roadside Drug Testing
According to the Detroit News, “The program would costs state police roughly $30,000, according to the House Fiscal Agency, including $6,000 a piece for a series of “oral fluid drug detection apparatuses” and about $25 for each roadside kit.”
Future of Roadside Drug Testing in Michigan
Once the state works the bugs out of roadside drug testing, it may be used more widely. The results of the roadside drug tests may be admissible in court cases.
Family Law Attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler is watching the progress of the pilot program closely as she assists clients because drug charges may impact divorce and other family law cases. Contact the Milford, Michigan law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000. The experienced attorneys at Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates handle divorce, child custody, adoption, estate planning and probate issues. The law office helps clients throughout Southeastern Michigan including Oakland, Washtenaw, Wayne, Genesee and Livingston counties. The attorneys work in Milford; Highland; Hartland; White Lake; Howell; South Lyon; New Hudson; West Bloomfield; Waterford; Walled Lake; Waterford; Commerce Township; Holly; Grand Blanc and many more local communities.
Written and Posted by Christine Donlon Long, Communications’ Specialist for Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates