A localized pilot program to allow Michigan police officers to test a driver’s saliva for the presence of marijuana has been expanded statewide. If you have used marijuana or cannabis containing products and then drive a motor vehicle in Michigan, you should be aware that roadside testing for marijuana use is now available to all law enforcement officers throughout the state.
An example of the kinds of units used in Michigan include the Alere™ DDS®2 Mobile Test System. According to the manufacturer’s website, the handheld unit is easy to use and produces accurate results. It can also analyze for up to six different drugs, including Marijuana.
In evaluating a driver, a police officer would correlate the results of a saliva test with all of the other observable signs of impairment, such as any observations made at the roadside, the driver’s performance on field sobriety testing, and any admissions made. If the officer believes, based on a combination of all of the evidence acquired at the roadside that probable cause exists to make an arrest, then the driver will be taken into custody and charged with DUI. While many people refer to these charges as DUI, in Michigan the crime is called OWI or operating while intoxicated.
It is believed that the salivia tests will help officers more accurately make the arrest/no arrest decision roadside. After an officer smells marijuana, or otherwise suspect a driver has consumed it, they can proceed to confirm this believe using a simple roadside test. However, as with all forms of testing, particularly roadside testing, saliva swabs are prone to false positives, meaning innocent people can be carted off to jail. Since the legality of the arrest can be challenged in court, and if successful can lead to the dismissal of your case, it is important to retain a Michigan DUI lawyer expert to assist you.
Also like a preliminary breath test for alcohol, a preliminary saliva test for marijuana is not admissible in a Michigan court except under limited circumstances, such as when a driver’s arrest is challenged. Otherwise, to establish the presence of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, the police will need to obtain a subsequent blood test. It is the result of the secondary blood test that will be used to prove impairment at trial. A police officer will need a warrant to draw your blood for this purpose unless you agree to it. However, a blood test refusal usually results in a one year driver license suspension and 6 pts added to the driver’s record.
On the other hand, there isn’t much of a penalty for refusing the roadside saliva test. Like a preliminary breath test for alcohol, a driver is allowed to refuse to submit to a saliva test for marijuana. The only consequence for this refusal is a civil infraction. There are no points associated with this civil infraction for refusing the marijuana saliva test, and no driver license sanctions will result.
Since Michigan legalized both recreational and medical marijuana provisioning centers have become increasingly common. As a result, marijuana is widely, easily and lawfully obtainable by anyone over the age of 21. Consequently, marijuana use has increased throughout the State. Because marijuana is now so commonly used and occasionally abused, driving under the influence of marijuana is the second most common reason people in Michigan are arrested for DUI.
If you have been arrested in Michigan for OWI marijuana, please contact the Barone Defense Firm for your FREE no obligation consultation. We will discuss with you if it is possible to fight and win your case.