Police Using Saliva Tests in Many States
Written By Lucas Kibby
Oral testing has grown in popularity over the last decade due to one simple fact, oral testing is non-invasive for you and your employees. In minutes, a sample can be collected nearly anywhere. Sensitive drug testing issues, like gender, observation, and privacy often associated with urine collection are eliminated for everyone involved.
The results are as accurate as a blood test, but without pain or needles and is why it has risen in popularity for police to test at the roadside in some states to prevent or stop drugged driving. While the tests can determine the presence of specific illegal substances, it will not be able to determine how much of a drug is in a person’s system.
Roadside saliva drug testing in California
Now that voters legalized recreational marijuana in the state, police agencies are finding ways to test drivers impaired by marijuana and other drugs.
Law enforcement officers are testing a mouth-swab device that detects marijuana impairment in drivers and provides results within minutes. The biggest issue is that marijuana does not have a standardized cutoff for being high like alcohol does for being drunk.
“As someone who spent 28 years with the California Highway Patrol, I have personally witnessed the tragedies that are associated with this problem,” said Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale. “When people drive impaired they are really putting themselves and others at risk.”
After completing standard field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer screening, police ask to rub a swab inside a tester’s cheeks to gather fluids. The officer then inserted the swab into a machine to generate results. Later, another test at the station may be taken to be sent to a lab for official testing.
Roadside saliva drug testing in Vermont
A bill that would allow Vermont police to take a saliva sample from drivers who appear drug impaired received preliminary approval by the state’s House on March 1.
The bill would allow officers to pull drivers over and request the salvia sample on the spot as a “preliminary” drug test, screening drivers for marijuana as well as six other drugs including cocaine, amphetamines, and certain opiates.
While results of the initial test would be inadmissible in court, if positive, an evidentiary salvia test would follow with the confirming test sent to the state laboratory for results.
Currently, Vermont police rely on blood tests that require a warrant and a hospital visit to demonstrate that drivers are impaired by either drugs or alcohol, according to a report in the Burlington Free Press. Supporters of the legislation argue that a saliva test would be faster, more accurate and less invasive.
In addition, proponents say the legislation is particularly critical with the state’s plan to legalize recreational marijuana in July. Opponents of the bill, including the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, have voiced concerns about privacy issues and protecting driver’s constitutional rights, reports the Free Press.
Roadside saliva drug testing in Michigan
Michigan State Police begin a one-year pilot roadside saliva drug testing program. Specially trained officers will administer the roadside test to suspected drug-impaired drivers in five counties of the state’s counties. They will work with local and state police departments, and must pull the suspected driver over themselves to give the test.
“This machine does not detect impairment, it has certain cut-off levels for each of the drug categories,” said MSP Lt. Jim Flegel who is supervising the pilot program.
They will detect the presence of any of the following drugs:
- Amphetamine (50 ng/mL)
- Benzodiazepine (20 ng/mL)
- Cannabis, THC (25 ng/mL)
- Cocaine (30 ng/mL)
- Methadone (15 ng/mL)
- Methamphetamine (50 ng/mL)
- Opiates (40 ng/mL)
Then, that driver will also take a blood test to help avoid false test results.
Oral Testing In Your Company Drug Testing Policies
Oral drug testing will never replace urine drug testing or hair drug tests because each type of test gives you different information. Hair testing detects drug use over a period of months, urine testing detects drug use for a period of days, and saliva drug tests measure a drug history in hours.
CleanFleet can help you include this testing method in your drug testing program, while making sure your policies are staying compliant with local, state, and federal laws. For more details or if you are interested in our On-Site option, call us at 503-479-6082.