Roadside Drug Testing Bills Moving Through Legislature

by: Matt Newburg

02/08/2016 05:13 PM EST
  Road testing  

Law enforcement in designated Michigan counties would be able conduct roadside drug testing, including saliva tests, under a measure currently making its way through the state Legislature.

Senate Bills 207 and 434 have already passed the Senate, and are now being taken up by the House. 

Senate Bill 434 would let certain counties establish pilot roadside drug testing programs. The pilot projects would give police officers the authority to swab the mouths of drivers suspected of driving under the influence of a controlled substance, like marijuana, in order to determine whether they are indeed impaired. 

The one-year pilot program would operate in five counties, to be chosen by the Michigan State Police (MSP). Once the pilot programs end, the MSP would be required to report to the Legislature the relevant data, including the number of arrests and convictions resulting from the roadside drug testing. 

SB 207 is SB 434’s companion legislation. SB 207 would let an officer who is certified as a drug recognition expert in a county that participates in the pilot program to require a person to submit to a mouth swab, if the officer had reasonable suspicion the motorist was under the influence of a controlled substance. 

Pursuant to SB 207, the officer could arrest the person based upon the results of the mouth swab. Results of the saliva analysis would then be admissible in a criminal prosecution or administrative hearing. 

SB 207 also provides that:

  • A person who submitted to a mouth swab would remain subject to other requirements of Michigan’s drunken-driving laws for the purposes of chemical tests. 
  • A person who refused to submit to a mouth swab would be liable for a civil infraction. 
  • A commercial motor vehicle operator’s refusal would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days’ imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $100. 
  • Certain witnesses would be permitted to testify on the issue of impairment, relating to the results of the field sobriety test. 

It is estimated the program will cost local and state law enforcement agencies $20,000 to $30,000. A major cost of the pilot project would be the purchase of the swab drug detection kits, which can range from $250 to $700 each.

The legislation is currently scheduled for discussion by the House Judiciary Committee at its February 9 meeting.