Increased Police Powers to Fight Drunk Driving

Increased Police Powers to Fight Drunk Driving

Obviously, Drunk Driving is dangerous.  So is “drugged driving”. The Michigan Legislature is expanding police powers on Michigan roadways by giving the Michigan State Police a new tool crack down on drugged driving: a roadside drug test. As reported recently in Michigan Lawyers Weekly, the Michigan State Police are launching a program to administer an oral fluid test for drivers suspected of driving under the influence of illegal drugs. This affects every driver on Michigan roads and can be harmful to one’s life and reputation, not to mention costly. If you face consequences of a roadside drug test, it is vital to consult an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney who understands all the issues related to this new law.

Some of the issues include that the test itself is unreliable since it is based on questionable science, that the officers will not be able to distinguish between illegal drug users and drivers on prescription medications or suffering from disabilities, that false positives will cause too many innocent people will to suffer warrantless arrests before an independent laboratory performs a confirmation test, and the sheer inconvenience of a 20 to 30 minute roadside testing procedure. Because of these potential issues, it seems clear that the legislation may be unnecessarily rushed, making it dangerous to the unsuspecting public.

Proponents of the legislation argue that this saliva-swab test can only be conducted by officers certified as drug recognition experts, that prosecution will be based on a subsequent blood test, and that the program, once completed, will be analyzed and evaluated to determine its effectiveness. The state also claims the saliva sample will be destroyed and no DNA will be retained. Still, these explanations will mean little if facing the unintended consequences of this vaguely worded law.

Five yet-to-be determined counties will participate in the pilot program. The Michigan State Police will also be selecting local law enforcement agencies in these counties to participate in the program. The law takes effect on September 22, 2016, so the program will roll out between that date and the end of the year and will last for one year. If the program is deemed successful, it is expected to become statewide law.

It is important that every driver be aware of this change to the Michigan Vehicle Code that implicates your Constitutional rights to privacy and due process. If you are under investigation for or charged with drunk driving or drugged driving in Michigan, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney.  Call the Law Office of John Freeman, PLLC for a free consultation today.