Roadside Saliva Tests for Drugs- Coming Soon

The Federal Government is stepping up its focus on drugged driving and the use of roadside tests of saliva to screen for drugs. The Office of National Drug Control Policy working with the Department of Transportation have taken steps to address drugged driving, and several studies have been published. The National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, published in 2007, concluded that about one in eight nighttime drivers on the weekend tested positive for illicit drugs.

Drug Testing and Drug-involved Driving of Fatally Injured Drivers in the United States: 2005-2009, found that roughly one in four of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for drugs were under the age of 25.  In 2009, narcotics and cannabinoids accounted for almost half of all positive results. In that same year, eighteen percent of all fatally injured drivers’ nationwide tested positive for drugs at the time of the crash. In addition, The Institute for Behavior and Health published Drugged Driving Research: A White Paper. That paper concluded that drugged driving was a significant domestic and international problem.

Also, there are many drugs with potential impairing effects being prescribed at a rate higher than at any time in our history. The number of narcotic analgesics (e.g., hydrocodone, oxycodone) prescribed over the past decade has skyrocketed. Part of his increase is attributable to an aging population, but many of these drugs find their way into the hands of younger drivers.

Accordingly, drug impaired driving has been thrust into the spotlight of law enforcement, talk show hosts, and lobbyists. Moreover, federal agencies under the name “National Drug Control Strategy” announced their goal is not only to reduce drugged driving by ten percent by 2015, but also to put the prevention of drugged driving on the same level with drunk driving prevention. Included in their strategy was the development of “standard screening methodologies for drukg testing labs to use in detecting the presence of drugs.” This means the roadside saliva tests for drugs, which are already in use in 14 states, will be coming to a roadway near you soon.


Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website

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