Pilot Program for Road-Side Drug Tests Approved for Use in Several Michigan Counties

July 15, 2016
by The Law Office of Steven L. Schwartz

Cotton Swabs

Police are constantly trying to come up with new ways to deter drunk driving. The most recent attempt to curb Michigan DUIs is a pilot program allowing certain officers to conduct road-side saliva tests for motorists suspected to be under the influence of non-alcohol substances, such as marijuana, crack, or heroin.

According to one local Michigan news outlet, the new bill, signed by Governor Rick Snyder at the end of last month, will allow officers trained as Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) to conduct the saliva tests. The program allows an officer who suspects that a motorist is under the influence to call out a DRE team to conduct the test. The DREs will then swab the inside of the motorist’s mouth to take a sample of the motorist’s saliva. The test would be performed road-side and supposedly provides an immediate result. Currently, the testing method has only been approved for a limited purpose, meaning that it will only be used in the five counties that were a part of the pilot program and will be used in addition to the normal 12-step analysis that the DREs use to determine if a motorist is likely under the influence of drugs.

The accuracy of the saliva testing method has not yet been proven, and the test program hopes to establish whether the new testing method is even accurate enough to be used in criminal prosecutions.

New Procedures Must Withstand Constitutional Scrutiny

Whenever police come up with a new technique for testing motorists, or a new procedure by which motorists are subject to additional interactions with police, the court system will ultimately be the deciding factor if the new techniques or procedures are permissible. Under the federal and Michigan constitutions, motorists have certain rights that must be protected during routine traffic stops. For example, it has been held by the United States Supreme Court that police officers may not unreasonably detain motorists after the reason justifying the traffic stop has been sufficiently investigated. This may lead to challenges against the new protocol, should it gain widespread use across the state.

Regardless of how police determine a motorist is under the influence, there is likely a constitutional or statutory challenge available. Indeed, it is the State’s duty to ensure that its citizens’ rights are upheld during all citizen-police interactions.

Have You Been Arrested for DUI in Michigan?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with drunk driving in Michigan, you may be able to challenge the admissibility of the testing conducted. Additionally, depending on the manner in which the police stopped you, you may also be able to challenge the basis of the car stop. To learn more about which defenses you may have against your charges, call attorney Steven Schwartz at (248) 930-5019 to set up a free consultation. You don’t know whether you have a strong case unless you consult with a strong DUI attorney.

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