Michigan State Police Roadside Test

A few months ago, the Michigan State Police (“MSP”) announced the newest roadside impairment test implemented by various Michigan counties. While this program has been fairly shrouded in secrecy, our office has been working hard to figure out what this new testing procedure will entail and how you can avoid it!

On June 15, 2018, I (along with Stephanie Achenbach and Charlotte Steffen) attended the Criminal Law Spring Conference with the Michigan Bar Association. One of the highlights of this program was a presentation by the Michigan State Police about their Roadside Drug Test program. What we heard during this presentation was truly shocking…..

Do Not Admit to Alcohol or Prescription Drugs

If you find yourself stopped by the police for a driving infraction, you will most likely be asked questions regarding your use of alcohol or drugs. Clearly, NO ONE SHOULD EVER ADMIT TO CONSUMING ALCOHOL. This is well-known, and many people follow this sound strategy. However, most people freely admit to taking their prescription medication. Why? You’re clearly taking it as you were prescribed, so why would it be wrong to admit it? If you admit to taking any number of the commonly prescribed controlled substances, i.e. Xanax, Soma, Vicodin etc., the police will begin to suspect that your simple act of turning on a “No Turn on Red” was because you are under the influence of prescription medication. Isn’t anyone allowed to be a poor driver anymore?

Decline Oral Fluid Swab Test

What happens next is truly mind-blowing. Officers, in this case a Drug Recognition Expert, will ask you to submit to an oral fluid swab. This test involves sampling your saliva to determine if you have taken any of the testable substances. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TAKE THIS TEST!!!! The penalty is a simple civil infraction and fine. Moreover, taking this test will certainly mean you will be arrested if you have a positive reading. What’s worse? You will be arrested whether you take their test or not! So why would you ever voluntarily give officers MORE evidence against you? After these tests are completed, you will be arrested and taken down to the police department for a full Drug Recognition Expert Evaluation. Here’s where the fun begins….

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A Lack of Medical Training

A Drug Recognition Expert, an officer in the department who received some advanced training in determining impairment by drugs, will pull you into a room and ask you to submit to a physical exam. Would you allow your mailman to give you a physical exam? Of course not! (I hope.) Yet, these officers have the same medical training as a mailman when performing these tests. However, you can bet the officer’s observations of your muscle tone, temperature, eye dilation, pulse, and overall demeanor will make the police report.

Now it’s time for the icing on the cake. Remember when you consented to that test on the side of the road? The MSP states that officers are allowed to look at the result of that test if they so choose prior to your physical exam. Therefore, if they see you tested positive for a benzodiazepine (drug class for Xanax), this physical exam will undoubtedly turn into a confirmation test based on your roadside oral swab. You are just giving them more information to convict you!!

What You Can Do

So how can you avoid this whole ordeal? First, we always recommend waiting to drive until these substances are out of your system. No one wants an individual behind the wheel who is a danger to society. However, if you are pulled over after consuming these substances, do not consent to any test which will further cement your guilt. By taking the roadside oral swab test for drugs (or Preliminary Breath Test for that matter), you are only giving the police more evidence against you. They will not cut you a break. They will not “talk to the prosecutor” to help you out.

We Are Specialists Here to Help

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