Michigan Legislature Addresses “Drugged Driving”
Just a few days ago the House Judiciary Committee took testimony on a three-bill package to address “drugged driving”. The new proposal would require that driving while under the influence of a controlled substance, for example: medical marijuana, would be subject to the same testing requirements as drunk driving.
Currently the law allows for blood, urine and breath testing for alcohol consumption. Under the new proposal, these tests would also include saliva testing by way of oral swab tests. According to Sgt. Dwayne Gill, legislative liaison for the Michigan State Police, it would provide MSP with a new tool for dealing with drugged driving cases. He also stated that the police didn’t intend to start using the test immediately; they will wait until the science has been proven through testing.
So, what is an oral swab test? Swab drug tests are gaining popularity in recent years, replacing urine and blood tests in many situations. They are easy to use and far less invasive. A swab drug test, also known as an oral fluid test, can determine if a person has recently used any drugs in the SAMHSA-5 category, including opiates, marijuana and cocaine.
Advocates for the medical marijuana community have expressed concerns regarding the accuracy of the swab tests and what those results would mean for patients. The test doesn’t confirm intoxication, it simply provides a positive or negative finding with regards to traces of marijuana in the driver’s system.
Concerns have been raised that arrests might be made based on oral swab results for trace amounts of legalised marijuana that aren’t affecting a driver’s ability. Currently medical marijuana patients are allowed to drive after consuming the drug, but only if they are not driving erratically or posing a danger to others.
According to the new proposal, the law would “apply the same consequences to operating a vehicle with the presence of a controlled substance, that are currently in place for having an unlawful alcohol content.” In other words, the current consequences of drunk driving would be applied to “drugged driving”.