KPCC, California’s public radio, has announced that starting this weekend police officers in the Los Angeles area will begin using oral swab test kits to test whether or not drivers are driving under the influence of drugs. This change will also extend into the New Year and will come in time to stop some revelers who party a little too hard during the New Year’s Eve celebrations.
According to the L.A. City Attorney’s Office, this effort will continue throughout next year and will be funded by a $520,000 grant provided to the city. This effort is not completely new, however, and has been done already at some LAPD DUI checkpoints and at three stations that have jails.
According to Mike Feuer, an L.A. City Attorney, this new move is just one effort by the city to send a message to drivers that “using drugs and driving is a combination that won’t be tolerated in this city.”
Am I legally required to submit to an oral swab?
One issue that many drivers may not consider, however, is that they have the legal right to refuse to submit to the oral swab. According to the deputy city attorney Michelle DeCasas, the oral swab is “voluntary.” Oral swabs differs from other chemical tests, such as a blood test, which are required if a driver is arrested for driving under the influence. Drivers who refuse a blood test after a DUI arrest may be subject to an immediate driver’s license suspension by the California Department of Public Safety.
The attorney also noted that the prosecution hopes that the oral swabs produce more evidence for prosecutors to prosecute DUI cases, but so far out of the 50 who have consented to the tests, none have had to be introduced in court because the drivers decided to make a plea prior to trial.
Other towns in California introduce Oral Swabs
Oral swabs may also be coming to other parts of America. In fact, it’s not just Los Angeles who has decided to use them. Bakersfield, Sacramento and Fullerton are also using the oral swab test kits.
In fact, oral swabs may become one of the prime methods to detect the use of marijuana, which has increased exponentially in states which have legalized use of the drug. Police note that the oral swab can be an effective tool to identify drivers who are under the influence of marijuana because it can detect tetrahydrocannabinol or THC – the active impairing ingredient in marijuana. In fact, the oral swab can be used to detect the drug up to three hours after ingestion.
States and cities are starting to track DUI convictions based on drug use and developing new strategies to detect drivers who may be operating a motorized vehicle under the influence of drugs. This may become even more critical in states such as Colorado and Washington, who have legalized the recreational use of the drug.
Holiday Season remains dangerous time on the road
California and other states will heighten their DUI enforcement over the holiday season. In fact, LAPD anticipates making a large number of DUI arrests this New Year’s Eve. How serious is the problem? Reports indicate there were “2,087 traffic collisions involving impaired drivers and 16 people died in drunk driving traffic accidents, according to the LAPD.”
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