Two years ago, Berrien County’s reputation for — and track record involving — impaired driving crashes and arrests earned us the dubious distinction of becoming one of five Michigan counties subject to a one year roadside drug testing pilot program established by the Michigan State Police.
Launched in November of 2017, in an effort to combat the dangers of drugged driving, Berrien County joined four other Michigan counties who took part in the one-year “oral fluid roadside drug testing,” program in a bid to keep drivers from operating motor vehicles while under the influence of controlled substances. The pilot program set up by the State Police was also launched in Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties.
Each of those five counties were selected based on several criteria, including the number of impaired driving crashes, the number of impaired drivers arrested, and the number of trained Drug Recognition Experts in the county.
Now, the expanded Oral Fluid Roadside Analysis Pilot Program begins. Effective today, Tuesday, October 1st, the program includes participation from drug recognition experts (DREs) in every Michigan county.
Pursuant to Public Act 242 and 243 of 2016, the Michigan State Police (MSP) conducted a one-year Oral Fluid Roadside Analysis Pilot program, which concluded in November 2018, in five counties – Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw. The initial pilot provided valuable data on the performance of the oral fluid test instrument when coupled with law enforcement observed driver behavior and standardized field sobriety tests, but the overall sample size was too small to draw any definitive conclusions on the tool’s usefulness for law enforcement.
In their February 2019 report, the Oral Fluid Roadside Analysis Pilot Program Committee recommended expansion of the pilot for an additional year to include all Drug Recognition Experts in the state to allow a greater number of police departments to participate and to increase the sample size.
Lt. Col. Richard Arnold, ,Commander of the Michigan State Police Field Operations Bureau says, “This additional, statewide data will help to determine the usefulness of this tool for law enforcement, as we work to get drug-impaired drivers off Michigan’s roads,” and adds, “Roadside oral fluid testing continues to show promise and by expanding this pilot, we’ll have a larger body of results by which to determine the tool’s effectiveness.”
Under the pilot program, a DRE may require a person to submit to a preliminary oral fluid analysis to detect the presence of a controlled substance in the person’s body if they suspect the driver is impaired by drugs. The preliminary oral fluid analysis will be conducted by a DRE on the person’s oral fluid, obtained by mouth swab, and will be administered along with the drug recognition 12-step evaluation currently used by DREs.
The oral fluid test instrument tests for the presence of the following drugs: amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cannabis (delta 9 THC), cocaine, methamphetamines and opiates.
Refusal to submit to a preliminary oral fluid analysis upon lawful demand of a police officer is a civil infraction.
DREs are police officers who have received highly specified training that allows them to identify drivers impaired by drugs. Although the pilot program is being organized and managed by the MSP, DREs employed by county, township and municipal police agencies are also involved.
Over the last several years, Michigan has seen a steady increase in fatal crashes involving drivers impaired by drugs. In 2018, there were 247 drug-involved traffic fatalities.
Participating law enforcement agencies include:
- Adrian Township Police Department
- Allegan County Sheriff’s Department
- Alma Department of Public Safety
- Alpena Police Department
- Ann Arbor Police Department
- Auburn Hills Police Department
- Battle Creek Police Department
- Bay City Police Department
- Bay County Sheriff’s Office
- Berrien County Sheriff’s Office
- Bloomfield Township Police Department
- Cadillac Police Department
- Canton Township Police Department
- Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office
- Chikaming Township Police Department
- Clawson Police Department
- Dearborn Police Department
- Escanaba Department of Public Safety
- Gogebic County Sheriff’s Office
- Grand Blanc Township Police Department
- Grand Haven Department of Public Safety
- Grand Rapids Police Department
- Grand Valley State University Police Department
- Greenville Department of Public Safety
- Hamburg Township Police Department
- Imlay City Police Department
- Ingham County Sheriff’s Office
- Kalkaska County Sheriff’s Department
- Kent County Sheriff’s Office
- Lake County Sheriff’s Office
- Lapeer Police Department
- Lincoln Township Police Department
- Livonia Police Department
- Macomb County Sheriff’s Department
- Marquette County Sheriff’s Office
- Menominee Police Department
- Michigan State Police
- Midland Police Department
- Monroe Department of Public Safety
- Mt. Pleasant Police Department
- Muskegon Police Department
- Novi Police Department
- Oscoda Township Police Department
- Petoskey Department of Public Safety
- Pokagon Tribal Police
- Port Huron Police Department
- Roscommon County Sheriff’s Department
- Southfield Police Department
- St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office
- Troy Police Department
- University of Michigan Police Department
- Washtenaw Co Sheriff’s Office
- Wayland Police Department
- Western Michigan University Department of Public Service
- Ypsilanti Police Department