Roadside Drug Testing Expands to the Rest of the State

Original Pilot Program

The State of Michigan launched the now-famous roadside drug testing pilot program back in 2017. The roadside drug testing program started out only in 5 counties; Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair, and Washtenaw County. The program started with 31 “Drug Recognition Experts” who were assigned throughout the 12 police agencies between these 5 counties. A Drug Recognition Expert is an officer who has completed 72 hours of classroom study, along with 40 hours of field study before they are certified as “experts” by their respective police departments. These “experts” are not to be confused with expert witnesses, as the designation as a Drug Recognition Expert comes from police agencies and not a court. These Drug Recognition Experts were each given a saliva drug testing device to use if they suspect driving under the influence of drugs. If there was a saliva test that tested positive for the presence of drugs, then that sample would be sent to state lab for confirmation.

Current Changes

The State of Michigan has added at least 32 Drug Recognition Experts to the roadside drug testing program in the two-month period between January and March during its continued expansion. The pilot program is now in the second year of its expanded operation which now covers all 83 Michigan counties. As of March 4, 2020, there are 157 active police officers designated as Drug Recognition Experts in the state of Michigan. The costs for officer training and the machines that are capable of detecting various drugs in your system are expected to be nearly $700,000. Current police officers are encouraged by their departments to take the Drug Recognition Expert training, which will allow them to be certified to use the roadside drug testing machines during traffic stops. This initiative will only continue to grow as the more and more tests are conducted in an effort to try to police drivers who may be impaired by something other than alcohol. It is no surprise that the legalization of marijuana has many concerned that there will be more impaired drivers on the road. This program is trying to handle that very issue. What does this all mean? This means that if an officer pulls you over and feels that you are impaired, he/she can ask you to submit to roadside drug test anywhere in the state of Michigan. With the number of Drug Recognition Experts only on the rise, expect for this practice to become more commonplace.

What Happens if I Refuse the Test?

It is important to know that if you are pulled over by an officer who then asks you to take a roadside drug test, you do have the option to refuse. If you refuse to take the roadside drug test you must know that you will likely receive a civil infraction (ticket and fine). If you take the saliva exam and it comes up positive for drugs, however, you will then be arrested and taken down to the station for a likely blood draw and further investigation. This can easily lead to criminal charges such as operating while intoxicated (OWI) if a blood draw shows drugs or alcohol in your system. The first round of roadside saliva tests from the pilot program came with a reported 31% false positive rate. Even though this number came from a small sample size, it demonstrates that these tests are far from perfect, and can’t be trusted just yet.

Any Further Questions?

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or are being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.

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