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Pilot roadside drug testing program to begin Nov. 8

• Nov 3, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Kent will be one of five Michigan counties participating in a roadside drug test pilot program starting Wednesday, Nov. 8.

The one-year oral fluid testing program will also be conducted by police in Berrien, Delta, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties.

The Preliminary Oral Fluid Analysis pilot program was established by Public Acts 242 and 243 of 2016. The program will establish policies for the administration of roadside drug testing to determine whether an individual is operating a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance in violation of Michigan law. 

Over the past several years, Michigan has seen a steady increase in fatal crashes involving drivers impaired by drugs. In 2016, there were 236 drug-involved traffic fatalities, which is an increase of 32 percent from 179 in 2015.

“Motorists under the influence of drugs pose a risk to themselves and others on the road,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the Michigan State Police. “With drugged driving on the rise, law enforcement officers need an effective tool to assist in making these determinations during a traffic stop.”

The pilot counties were chosen based on several criteria, including the number of impaired driving crashes, impaired drivers arrested and trained drug recognition experts in the county.

The drug recognition experts are police officers who have received highly specified training that allows them to identify drivers impaired by drugs. Although the pilot program is being organized and managed by the state police, drug recognition experts employed by county, township and municipal police agencies will also be involved.

Under the pilot program, a drug recognition expert may require a person to submit to a preliminary oral fluid analysis to detect the presence of a controlled substance in the person’s body if they suspect the driver is impaired by drugs. The preliminary analysis will be conducted by a drug recognition expert on the person’s oral fluid, obtained by mouth swab, and will be administered along with the drug recognition 12-step evaluation currently used by experts.

Refusal to submit to a preliminary oral fluid analysis upon lawful demand of a police officer is a civil infraction.

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