Michigan Says Drug Impaired Driving is a Growing Problem, but Saliva Tests are not the Answer—Yet

Two bills have been presented in the Michigan legislature to help catch drivers on drugs. The bills were prompted from a car crash that killed two people where the driver was high on prescription painkillers. The bill is aimed at snagging the repeat offenders. One of the bills originally contained a provision for roadside saliva tests, but it has been removed because of many compelling arguments from critics.

Marijuana is legal for medical use in Michigan and the test could not differentiate between legal use and illegal use. Unlike many drugs, marijuana stays in your system for about 30 days; so you may have used marijuana weeks ago and test positive today. Critics blast the test for marijuana detection because it is unreliable in many ways.

Even though this test is unreliable for marijuana testing, it is effective for testing for other drugs including prescription painkillers. The bill’s sponsor agrees that the portion pertaining to saliva tests should be removed until the kinks can be worked out.

Since the saliva test has been removed, officers are relegated to using roadside tests and visual inspections to assess a driver’s impairment. The bills were intended to make a type of chemical test available to cops like the Breathalyzer is for alcohol.

In recent years, drugged driving arrests have skyrocketed and supporters believe this bill is definitely needed. Police that patrol interstate I-75 say that they arrest drivers from all over the country for drugged driving. It is a widespread problem that is growing in severity.