Saliva Tests For Drug Detection In Illinois Raises More Questions Than Answers

I wrote earlier this week about the legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois. As I mentioned in the article, state police and individual police departments will be tasked with determining whether drivers are impaired by more than just alcohol. This will be difficult because marijuana can stay in someones blood for up to 30 days, and sometimes longer depending on how frequent someone uses the drug.

One police department, Carol Stream, has started a pilot program to test saliva of drivers who have already been arrested. The program is being funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”).  An officer currently determines whether a driver is impaired at the scene, brings that driver back to the police station, administers a chemical test (blood or urine) and then the saliva test is offered on a voluntary basis. It does not affect that person’s case and is just part of a study. The testing has not been approved to be used roadside.

Let me be clear, I have a lot of problems with this program, and a lot of questions need to be answered. First, readers should realize that there are 4th amendment (illegal search and seizure) violation issues that arise with this type of testing. If someone is pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, they do not have to submit to a breathalyzer test. No police officer can force you to take that test. Although, the saliva test has not been approved for roadside use, there will never be a time where I believe courts will confirm that forcing this type of test when someone is pulled over would be legal under the 4th amendment. Also, a driver does not have to submit to a blood test either. Although, if someone is arrested, a police officer can seek a warrant to take someone’s blood sample. Again, will the police be able to seek a warrant for a saliva test as well? I do not believe these types of warrants should be allowed unless or until the accuracy of these tests passes scientific measure. Again, how accurate are these tests? I don’t think we know yet.

Without knowing more, I cannot endorse this type of saliva testing by police departments. Remember, if you do get pulled over, you do have rights. You do not have to submit to any of these tests without a proper warrant. Also, always contact an attorney if you have been arrested. You have rights, and one of those is to defend yourself against charges to DUI and against illegal searches and seizures.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago traffic accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

AAA Study: 13% Of Americans Do Not Think Driving High On Marijuana IS Dangerous

The American Automobile Association (“AAA”) released results of a study this week regarding the perceptions of marijuana use while driving. AAA surveyed 2,582 drivers and found more than 13% thought driving while high on marijuana was “only slightly dangerous” or “not dangerous at all” compared to driving while drunk, drowsy or impaired by prescription drugs. Among those surveyed, 70% said the odds of getting caught by police if you drive within an hour of consuming marijuana are low.

The study also revealed that nearly 15 million Americans admitted to driving within an hour of consuming marijuana, the AAA reported. Impairment from marijuana typically occurs quickly — within the first one to four hours of using the drug, AAA researchers said, adding that driving while stoned doubles the risk of a car crash.

This study comes on the heels of the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Illinois. Illinois Governor Pritzker signed the bill into law last week which will make marijuana legal in the state starting on January 1, 2020.

The question that many Illinois law enforcement agencies are now facing is how to deal with drivers who may be impaired while under the influence of marijuana. Unlike alcohol, there is no roadside breathalyzer that will detect marijuana use. Further, if the driver is detained and or arrested for erratic driving and then has their blood tested while in custody, there is no way to time stamp when the marijuana entered the driver’s system. Marijuana has been known to stay in a driver’s system for up to thirty (30) days, depending on frequency of use. Law enforcement will be tasked with this issue going forward and anticipate writing about this a lot in future once marijuana becomes legal and law enforcement agencies start announcing ways to deal with drivers who may be under the influence.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in Chicago car crash or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.