As Michigan drunk driving arrests continue to decline so also does the State revenue attributable to such arrests. One way to increase State revenues is to simply broaden the net, in other words, to increase the number of people who may find themselves in violation of Michigan’s OWI law.
Broadening the net may mean lowering the legal limit, but another way for law enforcement to move from targeting alcohol to targeting drugs. In fact, drugs represent a huge new “market” for the State because Michigan’s OWI law defines drugs so broadly. Michigan’s OWI law includes either illegal drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine, or legal drugs, such as Vicodin, Xanax, and even cold medicines such as decongestants or antihistamines. A drug is really any substance, taken into the body, that lessens one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.
And so Michigan, a state with significant budget problems, may, according to the Detroit Free Press article Michigan could be first to adopt roadside drug testing: “ become the first in the nation subject to roadside drug testing under a bill introduced Wednesday in the Legislature.”
The legislation would authorize police to administer a roadside saliva test for illegal drug use, just as they do breath tests for alcohol, when they stop a driver suspected of being intoxicated.
What’s not clear is how this roadside saliva test will, according to the bill’s sponsor, “largely replace costly and time-consuming procedures, often requiring search warrants and hospital-administered blood tests.”
Clearly this salvia test is merely a screening test, much like a portable breath test. Such screening tests are useful in helping the police officer make the arrest/no arrest decision, but can’t be used as proof of guilt at trial. A more reliable evidentiary breath test or blood test is required for that.
This means that once a person is arrested under suspicion of drugged driving, meaning they’ve taken and failed a saliva test, a blood test, and possibly even a warrant, would still be necessary.
By presenting this bill Michigan’s lawmakers have tacitly acknowledged that a “solution” must be found to declining State revenue attributable to OWI arrests. The proposed solution is to arrest more drugged drivers.