Police begin roadside drug testing program for drivers

- We know about the dangers of drunk driving, but drugged driving is a growing problem, as well.
That's why Washtenaw county is participating in a pilot program aimed at cracking down on people high behind the wheel.

Michigan State Police are now packing testing kits to catch drugged drivers as troopers and local cops in Washtenaw, Berrien, Delta, Kent, and St. Clair counties -- all are participating in the one-year pilot program.

"This is used for probable cause purposes," said Dep. Sheriff Brian Webb, Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office. "Trained drug and recognition experts are the ones that are going to be qualified to use them right now."

State police say last year there were 236 drug-involved traffic deaths which is an increase of 32 percent from 2015. Webb already made an arrest using the kit Tuesday night.

"Using drugs is just as bad as drinking and driving," he said.

The $3,000 kit includes individual cheek swabs to test your saliva.

"This is what the oral swab looks like, (put it in the mouth) for a couple of minutes," he said. "I'm putting an oral swab here and its giving me a readout."

It is inserted into the machine and after five minutes, they toss the swab, and the results are printed. 

Webb says the tester looks for six different types of drugs: meth-amphetamine, amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates and benzodiazepines -- like anti-depressants and Xanax.

Webb says the tester can't show the amount of drugs consumed.

"If it shows up in the saliva, it is showing here," he said. "That is more recent use. And if they used it days ago it shouldn't show up."

Police won't be pulling people over randomly.

"We know millions of people are prescribed drugs every day that function fine and can drive on their own," Webb said. "That is not the concern. It is the small percentage that causes crashes."

But if you refuse the test just like a breathalyzer, you'll be ticketed and, cops can still haul you off to jail.

"If I get a person off the road and they go into drug treatment it is a win-win," he said. "It will give them help and prevent them from hurting anyone else."

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