Expanded Statewide Roadside Drug Testing Begins Today

WWJ News
October 01, 2019 - 9:43 am
A Michigan State Police car

(Photo: WWJ/Mike Campbell)

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LANSING (WWJ) - Starting today, drivers across Michigan could be required to submit to an oral drug test if pulled over by police.

The expanded Oral Fluid Roadside Analysis Pilot Program begins Tuesday, Oct. 1 and includes participation from officers in every Michigan county statewide.

The initial one-year pilot program launched in November 2017 in Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties, but officials say the overall sample size was too small to determine if the testing is a useful tool for law enforcement. A decision to expand the pilot program for another year, this time taking it statewide to increase the sample size, was made in February. 

Here's how it works: Officers who are "trained as drug recognition experts" collect oral fluid, obtained by mouth swab, if they suspected a driver is impaired by drugs. Police use a portable saliva-testing device designed to detect if a driver has certain drugs in his or her system -- including amphetamines, benzodiazepines, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines and opiates.

Those who refuse to submit to the test will be subject to a civil infraction.

Police stress that drivers would not be pulled over at random and would only be tested if officers see signs of impairment.

Participating law enforcement agencies include:

Adrian Township Police Department
Allegan County Sheriff’s Department
Alma Department of Public Safety
Alpena Police Department
Ann Arbor Police Department
Auburn Hills Police Department
Battle Creek Police Department
Bay City Police Department
Bay County Sheriff’s Office
Berrien County Sheriff’s Office
Bloomfield Township Police Department
Cadillac Police Department
Canton Township Police Department
Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office
Chikaming Township Police Department
Clawson Police Department
Dearborn Police Department
Escanaba Department of Public Safety
Gogebic County Sheriff’s Office
Grand Blanc Township Police Department
Grand Haven Department of Public Safety
Grand Rapids Police Department
Grand Valley State University Police Department
Greenville Department of Public Safety
Hamburg Township Police Department
Imlay City Police Department
Ingham County Sheriff’s Office
Kalkaska County Sheriff’s Department
Kent County Sheriff’s Office
Lake County Sheriff’s Office
Lapeer Police Department
Lincoln Township Police Department
Livonia Police Department
Macomb County Sheriff’s Department
Marquette County Sheriff’s Office
Menominee Police Department
Michigan State Police
Midland Police Department
Monroe Department of Public Safety
Mt. Pleasant Police Department
Muskegon Police Department
Novi Police Department
Oscoda Township Police Department
Petoskey Department of Public Safety
Pokagon Tribal Police
Port Huron Police Department
Roscommon County Sheriff’s Department
Southfield Police Department
St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office
Troy Police Department
University of Michigan Police Department
Washtenaw Co Sheriff’s Office
Wayland Police Department
Western Michigan University Department of Public Service
Ypsilanti Police Department

Over the last several years, Michigan has seen a steady increase in fatal crashes involving drivers impaired by drugs. In 2018, there were 247 drug-involved traffic fatalities.

Supporters of the program, which was approved by legislation passed in Lansing in 2016, say police need ways to get dangerous drugged drivers off the road. Critics, however, are concerned that marijuana can be detected in the body long after its effects have dissipated.