Roadside Oral Swab Tests Coming?

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on April 6th, 2016

Breathalyzers only test for the presence of alcohol.  And until relatively recently that was sufficient.  But with the increased use of marijuana and drugs — both illegal and prescribed — it was inevitable that new tests would be needed.  And as I wrote in a post here one year ago, the California legislature had been working with a bill to authorize new tests of breath and oral fluids.  See California Proposes New Law to Allow Roadside Marijuana Testing.  That bill apparently was put on the back burner and died.

Now it appears that a new bill is being proposed that would permit law enforcement to take swabs from the mouths of drivers and test them with new devices — all at the scene of the roadside investigation.


Driving While High?  California Lawmakers Want to Use New Test to Check

Sacramento, CA.  April 6 - With medical marijuana in widespread use and a ballot measure planned to legalize recreational pot in California, state officials Tuesday proposed using new technology to catch the increasing number of motorists who are driving while high.

Legislation would allow law enforcement officers to use oral swab tests to strengthen cases when there is probable cause that a driver is impaired and the driver has failed sobriety field tests.

A hand-held electronic device would test for the presence of marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines and pain medications, including opiates, on the swab, according to Republican Sen. Bob Huff of San Dimas, who authored the bill.

“Sadly, we’ve become a nation of self-medicating, careless people,” Huff said. “The public is naïve in understanding how dangerous our roads are made by people who are abusing opiates, meth and cannabis.”


The use of small, handheld breath testing devices have proven to be less than accurate and reliable.  And even laboratory drawing and testing of blood for marijuana and a wide variety of drugs in blood samples is considered inconclusive more often than not.  Somehow, I question whether cops will now be capable of obtaining uncontaminated samples of saliva on the side of a busy and dirty highway and then testing those fluids with a small, "hand-held device" — and getting anything even remotely reliable and accurate.

"Proof beyond a reasonable doubt"….DUI version.  (See my post, Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt?)
 

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