More Police Officers Trained to Use Roadside Drug Tests to Make DUI Arrests in Michigan

There are 32 new drug recognition “experts” (DRE) qualified to make DUI arrests in Michigan. Only a trained DRE may administer the saliva tests in a DRE DUI investigation. Including this new crop of  32 DREs, there are currently 157 a total of DRE trained officers in Michigan.

The use of “oral fluid” drug tests began as a pilot program in Michigan in late 2017 and lasted one year. Initially, the devices were only used in DUI investigations in five Michigan counties, including Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair, and Washtenaw Counties. During this time a little more than 7 drivers per month were tested.  No information is available relative to number of Michigan DUI arrests that followed.

The DRE officers in this pilot program used a device called a SoToxa Mobile Test System.  This device tests a DUI suspect’s saliva for the presence of amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cannabis (delta 9 THC), cocaine, methamphetamines, and opiates. As such it is only used to give a yes/no answer to the question of whether a drug is present. The test does not give a number, or a quantitative drug level. Therefore, it cannot indicate if a driver is actually DUI.

Later the pilot program was expanded to allow all DRE trained officers throughout the state to administer the saliva tests on DUI suspects. This increased the number of Michigan counties participating to 50. Currently, the device is being used in DUI investigations throughout the state including all 83 counties in Michigan. In December 2018, the Michigan Legislature approved the use of state funds in the amount of $626,000 in support of phase 2 of this program. Senate Bill 718 was recently passed and clarifies language to allow the program to expand statewide. The bill does not otherwise change or expand the program.

The Michigan DUI lawyers are the Barone Defense Firm cautions drivers against submitting to one of the roadside salvia tests because they are not reliable. Like roadside breath tests for alcohol, these preliminary salvia tests are not admissible in court proceedings except where the issue is validity of the arrest. The test would not be admitted for a jury’s consideration at trial.

In order to show drug levels, the police must obtain a blood sample and that can be tested using a much more accurate test called gas chromatography mass spectrometry. (GC/MS). A GC/MS test is admissible at trial.  Also, refusing to submit to a blood test at the reasonable request of a police officer usually results in at least a 6-month suspension of the DUI suspect’s driver license.  In Michigan, refusals are almost always followed by the police obtaining a warrant and refusing after a warrant is issued is considered resisting and obstructing, a felony offense in Michigan.

Roadside saliva tests and DRE investigations are all the more common in Michigan now that we have legalized recreational marijuana use for drivers over age 21. However, a salvia test is not necessary to establish probable cause that a driver has used marijuana or any other drug.  If the police have collected enough evidence at the roadside to establish that the driver is probably under the influence of a drug then that driver can be arrested even if they refuse the roadside saliva test.

Drugged driving cases are complicated and success depends on hiring the right lawyer.  If you’ve been arrested for DUI drugs in Michigan, have one of our drugged driver attorneys review your case and provide with a free initial consultation.

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