Just what we need -- invasive roadside saliva testing!

If a bill introduced in the state legislature passes, Michigan will become the first state to have roadside drug testing:

The legislation would authorize police to administer a roadside saliva test for illegal drug use, just as they do breath tests for alcohol, when they stop a driver suspected of being intoxicated.

State Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, a former Eaton County sheriff and sponsor of one of the bills in the package, said the tests are easy to administer, reliable and cost effective. The tests could largely replace costly and time-consuming procedures, often requiring search warrants and hospital-administered blood tests, Jones said.

The test kit under consideration for Michigan can detect drug use in six categories, including marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.

There is a serious problem with this saliva testing technology. It does not determine whether someone is under the influence, or even whether someone has taken these drugs recently; only whether the metabolites for these substances are present in the saliva at the time of the test.

The metabolites are in the saliva for days (long after the substance was consumed, whether legally or not):

Detection in saliva tests begins almost immediately upon use of the following substances, and lasts for approximately the following times:

* Alcohol: 6-12 h[13]
* Marijuana and hashish (THC): 12-24 h[13]
* Cocaine (including crack): 1 day[13]
* Opiates: Up to 2-3 days
* Methamphetamine ("Tweak," "crank," "ice") and ecstasy (MDMA,) : Up to 5 to 13 days.
* Benzodiazepines: From time of ingestion up to 2 to 3 days
* Amphetamines 3 days[13]
* Phencyclidine (PCP) 3 days[14]

What this means is that while this test is a search, it is not a search to determine whether a driver is under the influence. It is a search for past drug use. Officers have no right to pull over drivers and search them for past drug use, because it is driving under the current influence of these drugs which is illegal. As they don't have probable cause to search for past drug use, any testing for past drug use would be unconstitutional. Whether these tests can be used as a job screening tool is another matter, but they simply are not designed to determine a current state of intoxication.

So, it is disingenuous to say that the tests are comparable to breath tests for alcohol, which determine whether a driver has been drinking recently. "Similar to tests for alcohol that have been given at roadside traffic stops for years" my ass! They are not similar at all.

They will not "replace costly and time-consuming procedures, often requiring search warrants and hospital-administered blood tests." Instead, they will result in lots of litigation. By, for example, the many motorists who take prescription painkillers, but are careful never to drive under the influence of them. Or people who might have smoked pot the previous day but didn't drive.

Driving under the influence means just that. The state has a right to determine whether someone is under the influence, but that is not a blank check to go on a fishing expedition into our bodily fluids.

It may sound paranoid, but you'd almost think the goal is to make invasive drug testing as routine a part of our daily lives as an ID check.

Naturally, this Orwellian bill is bipartisan.

MORE: Just saw this Drudge headline:

COPS IN N CAROLINA DEMAND NAMES OF ALL CITIZENS ON PRESCRIPTION DRUGS...
Database Dangers...
Factor in roadside drug testing, and they'll have an additional reason to go fishing through people's medical records.

You'd almost think we didn't have the Fourth Amendment. (Much less privacy.)

posted by Eric on 09.09.10 at 10:20 AM










Comments

Michigan will become the first state to have roadside drug testing...

Wrong. The roadside test for ethanol has been around for years and years.

Micha Elyi   ·  September 9, 2010 2:13 PM

State Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, a former Eaton County sheriff and sponsor of one of the bills in the package, said the tests are easy to administer, reliable and cost effective.

Yeah, they are cheap and they reliably show that someone is a drug user, regardless of whether or not they actually do use illegal drugs.

Phelps   ·  September 9, 2010 5:13 PM

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