Roadside drug testing coming soon to Michigan: Land Line Magazine

Roadside drug testing will soon be a reality for five counties in Michigan.

A recent law in Michigan allowed the creation of a one-year pilot program that will allow specifically trained officers to give saliva tests to drivers suspected of being under the influence of such drugs as marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

Shanon Banner, a spokeswoman for the Michigan State Police, said the five counties to be used for the pilot program still hadn’t been determined.

“While the legislation takes effect later this month, the one-year pilot will not begin until we finalize the five counties where the pilot will take place, evaluate and choose a testing instrument, and develop policies, procedures and training,” Banner said. “We expect to have everything in place in late fall, at which time we will make an announcement with more specifics on how the pilot will work.”

According to Banner, the one-year pilot program aims to determine the accuracy and reliability of oral fluid test kits/instruments in order to give trained Drug Recognition Experts another tool to assist in combating the dangers of impaired driving.

Neil Rockind, a criminal defense attorney based in Southfield, Mich., is opposed to roadside drug testing.

“I never believe in using drivers as guinea pigs to test a new law,” Rockind said. “That’s exactly what this state is doing.”

Rockind said the science for this type of testing isn’t there yet.

“The science is ridiculous,” he said. “The science does not support this test. This is a test essentially trying to determine if you have the remnants of THC in your system. The problem with it is that THC has an active ingredient and it has a metabolite. These tests can trigger a positive by the metabolite, which can be in someone’s system for weeks or a month.”

While the counties have not been announced, Rockind said he expects the pilot program to be conducted in rural counties.

“The counties tend to be rural counties and none of the larger counties,” he said. “By choosing smaller markets and smaller counties, unfortunately the state is cherry picking in a way. In larger counties, you are going to have greater opportunities for well-experienced and well-funded lawyers who are familiar with and willing to get involved in challenging the science to defend these cases and truly put the state to test.”

The law was inspired by a 2013 crash where a truck driver ran a red light and struck a vehicle, resulting in the deaths of two people. The truck driver, Harley Davidson Durocher, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after blood tests showed that marijuana was in his system.

However, Rockind believes the law is reactionary before the science is accurate.

“The science is rushed to market because somebody believes there is a problem that we need a reaction to,” Rockind said. “The reaction is to create some scientific process. But we could discover a year, three, five or 10 years down the road that this test was full of errors.”

Refusing to give a sample would come with consequences. Any motorist who refuses an oral fluid test via a swab would face a civil infraction.

Commercial drivers who refuse a test would be placed out of service for 24 hours and face misdemeanor charges up to 93 days in jail with a fine as much as $100.

via Land Line magazine