Michigan Law Enforcement Agencies Start Using Roadside Drug Testing Equipment

“Just to help us combat drugged driving in addition to alcohol impaired driving,” said Lt. Derrick Carroll with the Michigan State Police.

More than 50 law enforcement agencies across the state are testing roadside drug detection equipment.

It’s phase two of testing for this specific oral swab.

Michigan State Police started testing in 2017 and now they’ve expanded the trial.

This phase started Oct. 1 and will run for a year.

“In 2007, there were 98 deaths related to drug-impaired driving and then by 2017, we saw 151 percent increase,” said Carroll.

Michigan State Police say those numbers presented a clear need for roadside drug testing.

“For us to combat this, we need more tools in our tool belt,” said Carroll.

This tool is currently being used by Cadillac City Police.

It can detect marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, opiates and some drugs considered “tranquilizers”.

Here’s how it works.

“The first thing we have to do before we do a sample is, say for example I was going to give you an oral fluid test, before I do that, I have to do a quality control,” explained Sgt. Nick Bertram with the Cadillac Police Department. “Then once we’re done with that it should give us a green check mark.”

Then they would swab your mouth for a couple minutes.

“Once it turns blue that means we have enough sample and then we just shove it into what would be this opening,” said Bertram.

Five minutes later, you get the results.

“In this example here, everything’s negative except we have a positive for cannabis,” said Bertram.

The drug recognition expert will then take another saliva sample to be sent to an independent lab for confirmation.

“It’s the beginning process of the investigation, essentially,” said Bertram.

Similar to a breathalyzer test for alcohol, this new roadside drug testing cannot be used in court.

“Only those blood draws or the data master device for alcohol are what are admissible for court,” said Jason Elmore, the Wexford County Prosecutor. “What is done at the roadside is only enough to get them to the sheriff’s office for the data master or to the hospital for a blood draw.”