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Michigan State Police roadside drug testing kicks off today

Posted: 5:05 AM, Nov 08, 2017
Updated: 2017-11-08 22:29:33-05

Michigan State Police will collect saliva from suspected "drugged drivers" starting today as part of a roadside testing pilot program in five Michigan counties including St. Clair and Washtenaw.

The goal is to reduce the rising rate of deadly traffic accidents involving drivers operating while high. While the number of drunk drivers on the roads have gone down, the number of motorists on drugs is increasing at a concerning rate. 

The roadside drug test will not be random, but if you get pulled over, you could be asked to take a breathalyzer test and submit to a cheek swab aimed at detecting a variety of controlled substance including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and opioids.

Even prescription drugs. 

"Yes, I say crack down, yes! I want to be safe too," says Deborah Ritz. 

Ritz lives in Washtenaw County and applauds the MSP's efforts, but is concerned how it could impact people like her, using drugs legally. 

"I use med-ibles, I use lotions, I use oils," says Ritz, showing 7 Action News her medical marijuana license, which allows her to legally use marijuana, a drug that stays in her system long after the effects have worn off. 

"There’s no real way when they swab you to tell, when is your last encounter with marijuana, so that’s a real danger for people like me," says Ritz.

Ritz lives in Washtenaw, one of the five counties chosen for the MSP Oral drug test pilot program.

MSP Lt. Mike Shaw says the five counties were chosen based upon the number of past impaired driver crashes and arrests.

He says the cheek swab will be administered by a trained DRE officer and the results of the drug test will only be incriminating if there is other evidence of impaired driving.

Swerving, erratic driving or getting into an accident could subject you to a roadside cheek swab drug test. The DRE officer will also check your pupils, blood pressure and ask you to perform tasks similar to a sobriety test. 

If there are any signs of impairment and you test positive for drugs, you could face charges of driving under the influence. What about those people taking drugs as prescribed? 

"Just because a doctor prescribed it to you, (if) you go out there and kill a family of 4 and you were under the influence, that’s not going to get you out of what your responsibility is," says Shaw. 

The bottom line is, if you are driving erratically or get into an accident and test positive for narcotic pain killers or another controlled substance - even if prescribed - you could be charged with driving under the influence.

 You can refuse the cheek swab, but you could be ticketed and taken into custody until a warrant can be obtained. Then. you will be obligated to undergo the test.