Marsha Chartrand

Roadside drug testing pilot begins Nov. 8 in Washtenaw County

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Starting next week, in an effort to combat the dangers of drugged driving, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office will participate in a one-year oral fluid roadside drug testing pilot program established by the Michigan State Police (MSP).

The pilot program will establish policies for the administration of roadside drug testing to determine whether an individual is operating a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance in violation of Michigan law. The one-year pilot program will begin on Nov. 8, 2017.

Over the last several years, Michigan has seen a steady increase in fatal crashes involving drivers impaired by drugs. In 2016, there were 236 drug-involved traffic fatalities, which is an increase of 32 percent from 179 drug-involved traffic fatalities in 2015.

Here in Washtenaw County we have also seen a steady increase in the number of drug related traffic crashes and have chosen to participate in this pilot program as a way to help prevent additional fatalities.

“We’ve only used preliminary breath tests (PBT) or blood draws in the past,” said Commander Radzik of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office. “Blood draws are time consuming and can take weeks to receive results while PBTs focus solely on alcohol impairment. With the increase in drugged driving crashes and the opiate crisis upon us, it’s important that we expand our ability to test for additional substances and provide staff the ability to do so during the initial traffic stop.”

“Why we were chosen and why we agreed to participate in this program is due to several factors,” added Sheriff Jerry Clayton. “The number of impaired driving crashes we’ve had, the number of impaired drivers we’ve arrested and the number of trained Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) in the county all went into this decision.” In partnership with Ann Arbor, Pittsfield, Ypsilanti, and the University of Michigan Police Departments there are a total of seven (7) trained DREs within Washtenaw county.

During the pilot, a DRE may require a person to submit to the oral fluid analysis in order to detect the presence of a controlled substance in the person’s body. This preliminary on-scene analysis will be conducted by obtaining a mouth swab and will be administered along with the drug recognition 12-step evaluation currently used by DREs. Refusal to submit to a preliminary oral fluid analysis or a PBT upon lawful demand of a police officer is a civil infraction.

For additional information concerning Washtenaw County and our participation in the pilot program contact Director Derrick Jackson at 734-891-2243. For information concerning the overall pilot process contact Spl/F/Lt. Jim Flegel, MSP State Services Bureau at 517-284-3724.

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