In 2017, Michigan launched a pilot program that allowed for certain police officers to perform and execute roadside drug testing for suspected marijuana users. The idea was and still is to assist in the attempt to identify and charge potential individuals under the possible influence of marijuana. As many individuals know, marijuana is both legal recreationally and medically here in the State of Michigan. The test used in the possible detection of marijuana within drivers is one based on an oral swab or collection. The test is to be performed or overseen by a Drug Recognition Expert (or DRE Officer).
These Officers are specifically trained in certain law enforcement techniques that are designed to identify individuals that are under the influence of specific controlled substances. The use of Oral Swabs combined with the techniques and training of these DRE Officers are now being utilized throughout the State of Michigan within many its counties and cities. The Pilot program first implemented in 2017 has been expanded, most recently in 2020, and now seems to be in full swing.
At the end of the day, the purpose of this program is to hinder, control and oversee the use of marijuana among drivers due to the legality of the substance. The similarity between patrolling for alcohol and marijuana have become very similar; however, there is an added layer provided (and arguably needed) in order to possibly detect marijuana intoxication. The need for increased oversight, knowledge and training is due to the difficulty in determining impairment among the substance. There are conflicting and often positive studies indicating the ability to determine whether an individual is in fact impaired, under the law, when it comes to operating a motor vehicle after having consumed or ingested marijuana.
Now more than ever, it is important to know the law and maintain your rights. When we are speaking about field sobriety tests, preliminary breath test or oral swabs than individuals must know that these can be declined or not provided to officers when in situations where they are “investigating” drunk driving cases. There is no individual sanction or criminal violation for refusing to submit to field sobriety tests. Moreover, if an individual refuses to do preliminary breathe tests or oral swabs, then they are looking at a non-abstract-able civil infraction.
These are important points made because they could mean a difference between criminal convictions and simple police encounters. The ideals and concerns that are expressed here can impact not only an individual’s criminal record but also their ability to operate a motor vehicle. License suspension can occur if an individual inevitably refuses the chemical test performed after an arrest. It is not always enough to know the law and maintain your rights, but instead you must also lawyer-up.