California seeks new technology to detect those that are “DUID”
A proposed new law in California, Assembly Bill 1356, voted on this month in Sacramento, seeks to allow police officers to use a swab of saliva to detect drugs in a driver’s system, to catch persons that are “Driving Under the Influence of Drugs” (DUID).
AB 1356 has some doubters, however. DUI defense attorneys have voiced concerns over how the test results from the device may be viewed in terms of evidentiary value and the final determination of someone’s blood level of intoxication.
The author of the bill, Lackey, a former police officer, called those issues “premature,” and said he believes the science behind the technology is strong. But he also stressed that the device is only going to be used as a screening tool, so officers can make a more reasonable assessment of a person they’ve stopped.
“The technology is not setting new limits for drug intoxication,” he said.
California seeks new technology to detect those that are “DUID” and NORML is neutral.
California National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Cal NORML), stands neutral on the bill. But Dale Gieringer, director of the nonprofit group, pointed out that while oral swabs are “roughly as sensitive” as blood tests for detecting use, there’s a lack of scientific data on the accuracy of the tests being proposed for use by cops in California.
Gieringer told Government Technology that oral swab testing doesn’t measure actual impairment, but rather past use by a person. That could lead to motorists who are medical marijuana users coming up positive without actually being impaired.
Lackey hosted a demonstration of the DDS 2 device on April 20. A medical marijuana patient volunteered for the test and came up positive, at which point, Gieringer said Lackey noted the person would have likely been arrested for DUI had he or she previously been arrested for bad driving and taken a field sobriety test.
“We do not object to oral swab testing being used in such cases, so long as it’s understood they don’t constitute legal proof of impairment, just evidence of recent use,” Gieringer said. “We would strongly object if California police started administering oral swab tests at random road blocks or for minor nondriving-related offenses like expired plates or a busted tail light.” One problem with this bill is financing the cost. This technology, being relatively new, is not cheap, and there is no mechanism for funding it in the bill that is proposed.
Lackey wasn’t overly concerned with the issue, however. He said he was focused on getting the bill “accepted and authorized.” He added that federal grants and partnering with other agencies interested in traffic safety could be potential ways departments could come up with the money needed to get the technology in the hands of officers.