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Can Police Test for Drugged Driving?

By The Husband and Wife Law Team on January 8, 2018

Right now, Arizona police are testing a new way to catch drivers who are under the influence of drugs. It’s called a roadside oral fluid test (OF), and it is quick and easy to administer. A typical test takes less than five minutes and is conducted with a small sample of saliva from the suspected drugged driver. The driver can also supply a blood or urine sample if he or she is unable to give saliva due to medical conditions.

Police can administer the tests through the driver’s window, but in some cases, might ask the driver to step outside. If the test is positive for drug use, the driver will have to leave the car and undergo further testing.

OF tests have been successfully used in several European countries and are being considered in other states like California, Vermont, Tennessee, and Michigan. The tests, depending on which ones are used, can detect:

  • Marijuana
  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Benzodiazepine
  • Opiates/Methadone
  • Ecstasy/Molly

While some of the drugs are illegal, others may be prescription drugs that the driver is abusing. Overdosing on prescription drugs or using someone else’s prescription is dangerous and illegal, and can cause fatal car accidents.

Why Are Roadside Tests Important?

If drivers know how easily drug use can be detected, it might deter them from getting behind the wheel while under the influence and putting themselves and others at risk. While OF tests can’t be used to support charges of Driving Under the Influence yet, they can provide officers with the preliminary results to then conduct secondary tests, which can be used in a court of law.

Drugged drivers cause serious and fatal accidents. In 2015, a teenager under the influence of marijuana plowed into a motorcycle at Broadway Road and Stapley Drive, nearly killing the motorcyclist. In another incident, a woman almost hit a security guard at a Phoenix Children’s event and the officer found she had used narcotic painkillers before driving.

It’s important for drivers to understand that even prescription drugs can cause serious impairments while driving, and that they should consult a doctor before taking them. Questions for a doctor include: Can I take this before driving? How long should I wait between taking my medication and driving? What signs indicate that it is not safe for me to drive?

Of course, using illegal drugs can always get you in trouble with the law, whether or not you are driving. Driving under the influence puts countless other lives at risk as well. An impaired driver has less ability to react, can’t focus on the road and road signs, may have vision problems, can black out, and can’t concentrate.

If you were the victim of a drugged driver, we may be able to help. Call Breyer Law Offices, P.C., for a free consultation.

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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer