This past St Patrick’s Day, San Diego drivers may have found themselves subject to a new surprise: Roadside tests for cannabis use.
While drunk driving stop points have been in practice for years, the addition of a mouth swab test (the Drager 5000) for cannabis use was this year new.
As a result, if a San Diego cop suspect you are high, they can now test on site. Though The Free Thought Project reports the test isn’t mandatory, it’s already in use in cities such as Los Angeles and New York, and officers are using it regularly.
Unfortunately, there’s one major problem with the test: You don’t have to actually be high to register a positive result. In fact, positive readings can result from any cannabis use in the previous several days.
Notes the San Diego Union-Tribune:
“Officers trained to recognize the symptoms of drug impairment will first look for various indicators that a driver is high, from an unsafe driving maneuver to bloodshot eyes to the odor of marijuana to blank stares, San Diego police Officer Emilio Ramirez said. Once there is ample suspicion of drug use, the officer can then request to perform field sobriety tests or for a driver to take the Dräger 5000 test.
If the driver refuses at that point, the officer can force the person to submit to a blood test.
To use the machine, the driver is handed a mouth swab and instructed to run it around the inside of the mouth for up to four minutes. The swab is then placed into the machine, along with a vial of testing solution, and the machine does its work. It takes about six to eight minutes for results to print out on a receipt.
A positive result will likely send the driver to a police phlebotomist for a blood test to determine precise drug levels.”
Of course, cops can request a blood test even after a negative result if they still suspect impairment.
Of course, cannabis is also legal in California, and given that the Drager 5000 returns positive results even when someone may not be high at the time? This seems more like an invasion of privacy and another opportunity for police to harass citizens.
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