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California bill proposes new technology to drug test drivers

Dale Gribow May 21, 2015

While many DWI charges occur as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol, many occur as a result of driving under the influence of drugs. In California, lawmakers are considering a proposal by California Assemblyman Tom Lackey: Assembly Bill 1356. This bill would allow law enforcement officers to use a new technology to determine whether someone is driving while impaired by drugs. It would also change California law to state that all drivers have automatically consented to the chemical testing of their blood or oral fluids.The DDS 2 Mobile Test System can supposedly detect drugs in the body with just a swab of saliva. Within minutes, the device can purportedly determine whether the driver is under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines or certain other illegal substances.Lawmakers have insisted that the test results from this device are not meant to be the final say as to whether someone is intoxicated. The results are intended as a screening tool to help officers make the tough call as to whether to arrest someone who was driving recklessly. However, there are still some concerns. According to some experts, there are inconsistencies regarding the scientific evidence supporting the accuracy of the test results.

While the test is about as sensitive as blood alcohol tests for detecting past use, it does not measure actual impairment. This means that drivers under the influence of medical marijuana may be at risk. As with blood alcohol content tests, the results of these tests could mean serious penalties for those accused of DUI. Thus, contacting a skilled criminal defense attorney is likely to be a top priority for someone subjected to testing.There are potential issues that lie ahead for the bill if it becomes a law, including lack of funding. Lackey has ideas on how to drum up the money needed, but he is focused on getting the bill passed first. The measure was voted on by three Assembly Public Safety Committee members in May, who voted 2-1 in favor of it. Since four members of the committee did not vote, though, the bill failed but was given reconsideration. The re-vote was not immediately rescheduled, so it remains to be seen how California drivers will be affected by this new technology.