Michigan roadside drug testing device and procedures explained

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If you are pulled over in one of five Michigan counties and a police officer believes you’re impaired by drugs, you could be asked to submit your saliva to be tested.

A Michigan State Police official explained the process for the state’s new roadside drug testing pilot program that begins Wednesday, Nov. 8, in Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties, that runs for one year.

Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), with specialized training in the signs of drug impairment, will carry handheld devices to test for the presence of drugs in drivers’ saliva.

Despite the new tool, police will continue to follow established procedures during traffic stops to check for drug impairment, MSP First Lt. Jim Flegel said.

“They’re not going to be randomly pulling people over, they have to have a valid reason,” he said. “They’re going to be looking for things like weaving in their lane, driving too fast, driving too slow, not using your turn signals — indicators that would indicate that somebody’s driving while impaired.”

After making a traffic stop, police would still have to establish probable cause for impairment, he said, by performing field sobriety tests.

“The only difference with the pilot program is if they determine they’re impaired on some type of drug, they’re going to ask them to submit to the oral fluid swab,” Flegel said.

The Alere DDS2 oral fluid test instrument will be used to measure for the presence of drugs in drivers’ saliva, Michigan State Police spokeswoman Shanon Banner said