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New Roadside Drug Testing Measure Now In Place In Washtenaw County

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Starting today, Washtenaw and four other counties in Michigan will begin implementing a new pilot program called "Oral Fluid Roadside Analysis." 

The WashtenawCounty Sheriff's Office is taking part in the program that allows trained officers, known as "Drug Recognition Experts," to request a saliva sample from a driver who they believe is driving under the influence of drugs.  

Commander Marlene Radzikexplains the process.

"It's very non-invasive. There's a buccal swap that goes into your mouth for a few minutes, and then they insert in a cartridge into this electronic machine, and it takes about five minutes."

The device detects substances such as marijuana and methamphetamine.   Washtenaw County is participating because, between 2015 and 2016, there was a 27% increase in drug related traffic incidents in the area.  That is, however, lower than the 32 % increase seen at the state level for the same period.

If it is determined that a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, the charges could range from a misdemeanor  to a felony.  Those who refuse to provide a saliva sample will receive a civil infraction.  Radzik added that probable cause will be used by officers during traffic stops.

Michigan State Police is spearheading the project, so there will be no cost to the county.  Police departments in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Pittsfield Township, and the University of Michigan are also part of the program.

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— Jorge Avellan is a reporter for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him javellan@emich.edu

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