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Criminal defense may challenge use of new drug impairment test

Along with drunk drivers, travelers must now be cautious of those driving while impaired by drugs. In fact, in Michigan, the number of fatal accidents involving drugged drivers increased 32 percent in the last year. Nevertheless, drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol deserve a strong criminal defense, especially when tests to determine impairment are not always trustworthy.

Starting this week, Michigan drivers can expect to see a new tool in law enforcement's box. A pilot program is set to take place in five counties scattered across the state, including neighboring Washtenaw County. The goal of this program is to establish the policies police will use when determining if a driver is under the influence of drugs.

Currently, police rely on roadside sobriety tests and blood alcohol tests like Breathalyzers to establish if an operator of a motor vehicle has been drinking alcohol. However, no standard exists for drug users who drive. At the end of this one-year pilot, the state hopes to be able to put roadside drug testing in place throughout the state.

The test consists of an oral fluid analysis, which will likely be taken by a swab inside the mouth. The saliva will then be analyzed along with the accepted 12-step evaluation by trained Drug Recognition Experts. As with roadside breath tests, drivers will not have the option to refuse the OFA without risking a civil infraction.

Michigan drivers are likely to find officers eager to prove the value of this new test. Many already know that breath tests can be unreliable and produce false positive readings. There is no reason to believe that an OFA won't have the same weaknesses as a breath test. This is why a driver who is arrested after police administer such a test would benefit from the counsel of a criminal defense attorney at the earliest possible moment.

Source: clickondetroit.com, "Michigan police to begin roadside drug testing in 5 counties", Ken Haddad, Nov. 3, 2017

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