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New mouth-swab test used to detect drugged drivers in California

With the legalization of marijuana in California, the drug is more accessible to those who want to use it. But, police will also be on a heightened lookout for impaired drivers. In fact, the city of San Diego will now be utilizing a new mouth-swab test when they pull a driver over on suspicion of operating under the influence of drugs. This new test will determine if the driver has marijuana or other drugs in his or her system.

The instruments, which are approximately as big as a mini-bookshelf stereo system, can be used to determine whether the driver has used certain drugs. These drugs include not only marijuana, but also benzodiazepines, methadone, amphetamines, methamphetamine, opiates and cocaine. While the instrument can detect the presence of these drugs, a blood test will still be needed to determine the level of intoxication. The instruments will be used mostly at DUI checkpoints for the time being.

One official believes that with the legalization of marijuana, there will be more incidents of drugged driving. Several other states are already utilizing such technology. Police in California particularly took note of Colorado, where it is also legal to use marijuana recreationally.

However, it is important to keep in mind that just because a person has taken a drug in the past does not necessarily mean that the person is too impaired to drive. In fact, some drugs linger in the body until well after the effects of the drug have worn off. This means it is possible that sober drivers will be wrongfully charged with driving under the influence. Those who believe they have been subjected to wrongful DUI/DWI charges based on alleged drug use may want to explore their legal options.

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego police go after drugged drivers with new mouth swab test," Kristina Davis, March 16, 2017

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