Wouldn't it be great to get every drug-impaired driver off the road? Why not, it surely would make me feel a lot safer as a regular bicyclist knowing that the person behind me I count upon to safely pass me is not in an altered state of consciousness. It seems a worthy goal.
A pilot program to achieve that objective was launched this Wednesday November 8th in five different counties throughout the state: Washtenau, Kent, St. Clair, Berrien and Delta.
Established by the Michigan Legislature, under Public Acts 242 and 243 of 2016, the program involves having specially trained police officers (Drug Recognition Experts or DREs) do roadside drug tests of saliva of those suspected of driving while impaired (DWI) by common drugs such as amphetamines, opiates, marijuana, meth, cocaine and benzodiazepines.
Each of 26 Drug Recognition Experts, working for a dozen police agencies within the five counties, will carry a device called the Alere DDS2 oral fluid test instrument, which will be used to measure for the presence of drugs in drivers' saliva. A specialized swab inserted into the drivers' mouth tells officers when there is enough saliva on it to be tested. This swab is then inserted into the bottom of the device and in about five minutes it gives either a positive or negative result.
In those counties, the police still need a valid reason to make a traffic stop, and the DREs are trained to only conduct a saliva test after several other protocols have been followed, including well known field sobriety tests, to alert them that impairment may be present. Due to the intrusive nature of the test, a driver has the right to refuse the oral swab. This right comes with a cost just like refusing to consent to a breathalyzer, however, in that the driver will be given a civil infraction with a hefty $200 fine.
Yet, if you do happen to venture into one of these counties and get stopped and are asked to submit to an 'oral fluid test', I would recommend you take the $200 fine and refuse their offer. I suggest you do this even if you're like me and you've never taken one of these drugs in your life. Even if you are okay with having your rights violated, refuse. It potentially can save you from being criminally convicted and/or suffering monetary damage of which a couple of hundred dollars would seem cheap. Trust me, but if you don't...
Let's consider the words of Attorney Bruce Block, who echoes the sentiments of many other Michigan attorneys who see some very big problems with the law and the process. Block says there is a significant possibility that legal drugs can give a false positive leading to a blood test, and unlike breathalyzer tests, the oral drug tests do not show how impaired someone is, only that they have drugs in their system, which is enough to result in a DWI charge.
Research into saliva tests indicate that they indicate traces of drugs that remain in the oral cavity, thus they may actually miss drug impairment caused by non-ingested sources. There are plenty of commonly used and lawful foods and medicines that can generate false positives, as noted here:
Likewise here's a non-exhaustive list of drug categories that may cause false positive results in drug screening procedures:
That poppy seed muffin you ate two days ago, that ibuprofen you took for a headache last night, the Vitamin B supplement you take each morning, could land you into a lot of trouble, just because the swab shows you have a positive. Research on the Alere DDS2 oral fluid test instrument shows it has a large degree of unreliability even without false positives in the picture:
"At one location, 50 drivers were asked to submit an additional oral fluid sample using the DDS2 collection device; these samples were analyzed by using the DDS2 mobile test system. Thirty-eight donors (76%) provided specimens that were successfully run on the mobile system; in 12 cases (24%), the device failed to provide a valid result."
A Vermont study published at the end of 2015 showed that the accuracy on a limited amount of subjects by the DDS2 even had a bit of variance with the 'more accurate' blood tests (thus not only is false positives a possibility, the oral test may differ from other test results):
Attorney Bruce Block notes that the way the program is designed and the fact that the swab test is done with consent keeps it ostensibly constitutional. When someone refuses to take the test, police have to come up with some other probable cause for arresting or detaining a driver in order for it to hold up in court.
“If you voluntarily agree to this saliva test, you’ve just waived your right to have a speedy ticket and be on your way,” Block said.
Block said people need to know they are not obligated to take the test.
“I have advised client after client after client, including my friends and relatives and my wife, don’t take it,” Block said.
It's a sad day when you have to pay a $200 ticket to a drug recognition expert rather than take an unreliable test and hope that it doesn't say the Advil you took earlier tests positive for benzodiazepines, marijuana or barbiturates.
I can see a lot of abuse with this test. Just think that a couple of officers could spend a day stopping innocent drivers and requesting them to be tested. When they refuse, Bam!!, $200 goes into the courts pocket book. 2 officers could easily stop 40 drivers a day. If the drivers refused they would then be compelled to cough up the fine to the tune $200 each which would add up to a hefty $8,000 per day. 30 consecutive days of this would gross the courts $240,000 in a single month.
Here is a video of the machine and their testing process.
There are more flaws to this testing device than those mentioned.
These machines are very sensitive to temperature and become inaccurate by the slightest movement like wind or, setting it on a car with someone in it. They must be very stable without any vibration.
One thing we know for sure about these devices is that Law Enforcement will never be asked to submit to a test on them.
Also, when a person gives up their rights to this testing and even if "negative" the Police will still have your DNA Profile for their records, which they could also use corruptly against you in so many wicked ways.
Law Enforcement is never to be trusted.
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Thanks for posting that information John. I'm wondering how any officer can verify that the cartridges, swabs and material used in the machine have not been contaminated, after all a private company makes this device. It's not like a radar machine that can be calibrated daily without inserting added material into it. Your right about collecting samples for DNA profiling. I don't blame the police for trying to stop the idiots who drive around all drugged up but this machine cannot be considered completely accurate and without faults.
I can see this going the way of the original seat belt law. Well you don't have to wear it ,but, if you get pulled over for some other infraction , YOU will be ticketed for not wearing it. See what it is now. It would seem that in order to take a sample swab they would need a search warrant.
$200 shakedown courtesy of the Michigan State Police.
Will this come with any points on your license?
Especially in St Clair Co., will Canadian residents routinely be stopped? Gotta be some easy pickin's with them not informed of the law eh? If they test positive will they be allowed to travel back to Canada?
Instead of their current logo,will the MSP fly the Jolly Roger's on their vehicles?
Instead of "To Protect and Serve" will their motto now be "Rape, Plunder & Pillage"?
Not my usual bailiwick to let the MSP off the hook, but troopers are not the only ones trained as DREs, some county and local law officers in the five counties also have the training. They definitely can get that training money back in a hurry.
This article has a bit of life on its own, it's been shared quite a lot from our Facebook presence, the Ludington Pitchfork, and has received about 12,000 looks on this page. A quick poll of the thoughts here and on Facebook say 100% of the respondents don't like the concept of being forced to submit to an unreliable test by dint of an officer's whim or face a $200 fine and undoubtedly extra scrutiny.
Please share with the state legislators who thought this was such a great idea without any concerns of the limitations of the test and the ramifications to the citizens of this state.
This test gives a lot of false positives, it also does not tell the officer how under the influence you are, just that you have an illegal substance in your system. You could have taken cold medicine with codeine in it 2 nights ago and still have it show up in your salvia. Unfortunately, many of these DRE, will find a reason to take you to jail, because they think they are "experts" on being able to tell if you are under the influence even without the salvia test. Many medical conditions mimic being intoxicated or under the influence. So until these DRE cops go to medical school, they have no right saying they are "experts" in this, they have no clue.
PS - it doesn't matter if you have a prescription and take your medications as prescribed, you will still get jailed for being under the influence, this is especially true for those who take low dose narcotics for chronic pain or people who have ADHD or ADD and take Adderall or Ritalin. What are these ppl suppose to do? Not work anymore because they cant drive? Ya sure, disability claims will get denied!
This thread is getting out on Facebook some, just saw a friend that is not from the Ludington area that shared it on her news feed... gotta like that!
The page hits for this limited regional website page has went up over 30,000 just since yesterday. On Facebook, the Ludington Pitchfork link has been shared 830 times. It seems to be striking a nerve throughout the state and even beyond.
I want to thank Leeann Tweeden for sharing her story about Senator Al Franken yesterday, who illustrated that having a state agent invade the private confines of your mouth without your consent is an unpleasant experience.
"[AlFranken] came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth. I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time."
With the probability that Michigan will legalize recreational marijuana usage in the next election is the oral cavity swab test nothing more than a money grab by the SOM and attorneys who will have an influx of clients who test positive?
If you refuse to take the swabbing yes you will be fined $200. The law also states that this includes a suspension of your drivers license. You will have 2 weeks to make an appointment and explain to a judge why you refused the test. Good luck with that without legal council.
Will people then be busted for driving while suspended? It looks that way.
This devise the Alere DDS2 Mobile Test System cost roughly $5,700 not counting the swabs and test strips. Less than 30 suspects refusing the test and the machine will be paid for. Add in any positive results and the payback will happen sooner.
At that price point will employers also make use of this machine? It definitely opens up a new area of concerns for both employees and unions.