Police conduct roadside drug testing in five Michigan counties

To combat the dangers of drugged driving, State Police are launching a one-year oral drug testing pilot program in five Michigan counties.

The program uses a mouth swab and roadside evaluation to determine if the driver is under the influence of drugs.

“We’ve seen a huge trend of drug use in Michigan and people getting behind the wheel impaired,” says Special First Lt. Jim Flegel with the Michigan State Police.

Lt. Flegel says in 2016, there were more than 200 crashes in Michigan where someone died because another was under the influence of drugs.

That’s a 32% increase from the year before.

“They’re not only endangering themselves, but they’re endangering other people out on the roadways,” says Lt. Flegel.

That’s why officers in Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair, and Washtenaw counties are conducting a one year pilot program to identify drivers under the influence of drugs.

Here’s how it works.

Specially trained officers will watch for drivers who show signs of impairment.

“They could be weaving in their lane driving too fast, or too slow, or not driving with their headlights on,” says Lt. Flegel.

Lt. Flegel says officers will not stop drivers at random, but if pulled over you could be asked to take a sobriety test or have your mouth swabbed.

“They would swab the inside of their cheek and under their tongue and then they would insert it into the test instrument,” says Lt. Flegel.

It takes about 5 minutes for results to come back either positive or negative on 6 different drug categories including amphetamines, methamphetamine, cocaine, THC, Benzedrine, and opioids.

Depending on the outcome, he says you can be arrested.

“If there’s enough there to take an oral fluid swab they’ve already established probable cause that there’s enough there that they should be under arrest for impaired driving,” says Lt. Flegel.

Lt. Flegel says it’s up to the officer to decide how impaired the driver is and if they should be behind the wheel.

Drivers can refuse to take the test, but will be given a civil infraction.

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