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Detroit Legal Blog

Testing Reckless Drivers for Cocaine and Marijuana

Jun 29, 2015, by Maurice Davis in Drug Crimes, Legal Blog

Drivers countrywide fear the consequences of a roadside breathalyzer, but soon law enforcement may be able to test reckless drivers for more than just alcohol consumption.

The DrugWipe test has been used to test surfaces for drug residue, and law enforcement may soon be using it to test sweat or saliva of drivers who have been pulled over for traces of cocaine and marijuana. Legislators in Europe have recently approved the use of the device by police officers. It is noninvasive and painless and can tell law enforcement if a driver has been using cocaine or marijuana within 8 minutes. DrugWipe manufacturers produce devices that test for other illegal drugs as well, including heroin, amphetamine and ecstasy, but they have yet to be approved for use by police in this context.

Drugged driving presents a problem that hasn’t been properly studied or addressed because of the historical limits of law enforcement technology. As of yet, police officers can only perform field sobriety tests on suspected drugged drivers and compel a blood test should they fail it. Field sobriety tests are largely subjective and nonscientific, and their results likely don’t tell the whole story of drugged driving and its impact on car accidents and fatalities. If DrugWipe or analogous technologies make their way overseas, police may soon have a much more reliable and effective way to combat drugged driving.

The possibility of testing drivers for marijuana and cocaine brings with it complications as well. Will violators be charged under existing driving while intoxicated statutes, or will there be newer more specific legislation, with different possible punishments? The number of states and cities who have legalized the use of marijuana grows after every election. Will this technology be able to differentiate between someone who is driving while high or driving sober after using marijuana much earlier in the day? What is the accuracy of the technology? Because data is limited we don’t really know how many people are injured or die due to accidents involving marijuana or cocaine. Can we be sure that the added expense of the device and invasion of motorist’s privacy is warranted and necessary? To be sure, there are many questions and concerns, and the law must evolve to keep up with advancing technology.

As it stands, people convicted of driving while intoxicated face stiff penalties in every state. Consequences can include license suspension or revocation, court-ordered drug treatment, hefty fines, increased insurance premiums, routine drug testing, probation, and jail time. Soon, law enforcement may have another tool to use against drugged drivers, and anyone pulled over may have something else to fear besides a roadside breathalyzer.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs, you will likely need the help of an experienced Michigan drugged driving lawyer. Contact Davis Law Group PLLC today for a free consultation at (313) 818-3238.