Expanded Statewide Roadside Drug Testing Begins Today

A Michigan State Police car
Photo credit (Photo: WWJ/Mike Campbell)
By WWJ Newsradio 950

LANSING (WWJ) - Starting today, drivers across Michigan could be required to submit to an oral drug test if pulled over by police.

The expanded Oral Fluid Roadside Analysis Pilot Program begins Tuesday, Oct. 1 and includes participation from officers in every Michigan county statewide.

The initial one-year pilot program launched in November 2017 in Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties, but officials say the overall sample size was too small to determine if the testing is a useful tool for law enforcement. A decision to expand the pilot program for another year, this time taking it statewide to increase the sample size, was made in February. 

Here's how it works: Officers who are "trained as drug recognition experts" collect oral fluid, obtained by mouth swab, if they suspected a driver is impaired by drugs. Police use a portable saliva-testing device designed to detect if a driver has certain drugs in his or her system -- including amphetamines, benzodiazepines, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines and opiates.

Those who refuse to submit to the test will be subject to a civil infraction.

Police stress that drivers would not be pulled over at random and would only be tested if officers see signs of impairment.

Participating law enforcement agencies include:

Adrian Township Police DepartmentAllegan County Sheriff’s DepartmentAlma Department of Public SafetyAlpena Police DepartmentAnn Arbor Police DepartmentAuburn Hills Police DepartmentBattle Creek Police DepartmentBay City Police DepartmentBay County Sheriff’s OfficeBerrien County Sheriff’s OfficeBloomfield Township Police DepartmentCadillac Police DepartmentCanton Township Police DepartmentCharlevoix County Sheriff’s OfficeChikaming Township Police DepartmentClawson Police DepartmentDearborn Police DepartmentEscanaba Department of Public SafetyGogebic County Sheriff’s OfficeGrand Blanc Township Police DepartmentGrand Haven Department of Public SafetyGrand Rapids Police DepartmentGrand Valley State University Police DepartmentGreenville Department of Public SafetyHamburg Township Police DepartmentImlay City Police DepartmentIngham County Sheriff’s OfficeKalkaska County Sheriff’s DepartmentKent County Sheriff’s OfficeLake County Sheriff’s OfficeLapeer Police DepartmentLincoln Township Police DepartmentLivonia Police DepartmentMacomb County Sheriff’s DepartmentMarquette County Sheriff’s OfficeMenominee Police DepartmentMichigan State PoliceMidland Police DepartmentMonroe Department of Public SafetyMt. Pleasant Police DepartmentMuskegon Police DepartmentNovi Police DepartmentOscoda Township Police DepartmentPetoskey Department of Public SafetyPokagon Tribal PolicePort Huron Police DepartmentRoscommon County Sheriff’s DepartmentSouthfield Police DepartmentSt. Clair County Sheriff’s OfficeTroy Police DepartmentUniversity of Michigan Police DepartmentWashtenaw Co Sheriff’s OfficeWayland Police DepartmentWestern Michigan University Department of Public ServiceYpsilanti Police Department

Over the last several years, Michigan has seen a steady increase in fatal crashes involving drivers impaired by drugs. In 2018, there were 247 drug-involved traffic fatalities.

Supporters of the program, which was approved by legislation passed in Lansing in 2016, say police need ways to get dangerous drugged drivers off the road. Critics, however, are concerned that marijuana can be detected in the body long after its effects have dissipated.