Monthly Archives: April 2016

Roadside Oral Swab Tests Coming?

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?)

California Senate Committee Passes IID Law

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about whether a person who has been convicted of a California DUI will be required to install and maintain an ignition interlock device. 

Currently, ignition interlock devices are only required by the DMV for people convicted of a California DUI in four counties as part of a pilot program: Alameda, Los Angeles, Tulare and Sacramento. Otherwise, the requirement that a person install an ignition interlock device is dependent upon whether a judge orders it as a condition of probation.

Last year, Senate Bill 61 extended the pilot program, which was set to end January 1, 2016, to July 1, 2017.

July 1, 2017, however, was too long for Senator Jerry Hill.

Hill authored Senate Bill 1046 which, if passed, would require people convicted of a DUI to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle throughout California.

The bill took a big step into becoming law this past week when the California Senate Public Safety Committee voted 7-0 in favor of passing the bill. Now that the California Senate Committee has unanimously voted for the bill, it will be sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Not surprisingly Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) fully backed the proposed bill.

“Senator Hill has shown extraordinary leadership on drunk driving prevention, and we are extremely grateful to the committee for agreeing that ignition interlocks do save lives,” said Mary Klotzbach, a MADD National Board member and whose 22-year-old son, Matt, was killed by a drunk driver.

This past February, MADD released its own Ignition Interlock Report, which reportedly showed the deterrent effect that ignition interlock devices had on repeat drunk driving. According to their report, ignition interlock devices prevented 1.77 million drunk driving attempts where the would-be driver’s blood alcohol content was 0.08 percent or more. The report also alleges that ignition interlock devices prevented more than 124,000 drunk driving attempts.

“Today, the Senate Public Safety Committee voted to protect all Californians from the completely preventable, violent crime of drunk driving,” said Klotzbach. When I buried Matt, I buried a piece of my heart. Now I want make sure no other parent, child, brother, or sister ever has to endure this kind of heartache.”

The mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices will add to an already long list of mandatory conditions that a person convicted of a California DUI must complete. What’s more, in addition to the other thousands of dollars associated with a California DUI conviction, people required to install the ignition interlock device will have to pay between $50 and $100 per month to have the device installed and maintained.