State police to expand roadside drug testing program

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Michigan State Police is expanding a roadside drug testing pilot program.

State police say they have the data to show that these roadside saliva test kits are very reliable when it comes to drugged driving - and officers will keep using them out on the roads.

One swipe of the swab and in minutes police can tell if you're on drugs…it tests for six different categories of drugs - including THC.

 "The most prevalent drug that came up positive was THC," said Lt. Jim Flegel, Michigan State Police.

 Lt. Jim Flegel is referring to data from the agency's pilot program testing the roadside test kits in five counties.

 Officers trained as Drug Recognition Experts gave the test only after observing signs of possible impairment behind the wheel - drivers have to give consent.  

 "We wanted to verify the reliability of accuracy of the test instrument using oral fluid," Flegel said.

 Half of the 92 tests given were in Washtenaw County. The results compared to a follow up saliva and blood test from the drivers.

 Out of 74 cases where drivers tested for THC for example, those follow-up blood tests confirmed the presence of THC in 63 cases. Not fool proof, but overall they performed "well" according to MSP.

 Critics are concerned trace amounts of drugs, especially marijuana, will show up. 

 "Oral test instrument does test for recent use it does not test for metabolites so it will give appositive reading for example on THC if they ingested THC a week ago," Flegel said.

The pilot program led to the arrest of 62 drivers for operating while intoxicated. 

State police says a positive read is only part of what's needed to make an arrest - it's ultimately the trained officer who detects if a driver is truly drugged driving.

"It's just another tool to help establish cause for impairment," Flegel said.

There is more funding from lawmakers to extend and expand this pilot program another year…which means more trained officers armed with these saliva test kits.