Driving in Carol Stream, Illinois anytime soon? If so, you could be asked to submit to an oral swab/test for drugs. As of February, the Carol Stream Police Department will start asking people to submit to a voluntary mouth swab to test for the presence of marijuana, opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines. This test will not be used in court and will be offered only to those agreeing to a blood test. A roadside saliva sample will be analyzed by the P.I.A.2 device. By comparing the P.I.A.2 results to the Illinois State Police Lab blood results, Carol Stream Police Department hopes to show that the P.I.A.2 is just as reliable as currently accredited laboratory tests. Due to their aggressive reputation for DUI enforcement, the German manufacturer Protzek offered to provide their device, the P.I.A.2, to the Carol Stream Police Department for free.
According to Carol Stream Police Sgt. Brian Cluever, “The science is proven.” The problem is, it isn’t. Scientific American found that accurate and reliable saliva detectors are millions of dollars and years away. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently found that point of arrest screening devices have not been shown to be completely accurate or reliable.” On the other hand, one device, the Draeger 5000, was found in tests to have a 93% accuracy rate in detecting the presence of drugs. However, this device, like another touted by California based Hound Labs, only detects the presence of drugs. The P.I.A.2, on the other hand, can measure the amount present in the sample. Still, the question of impairment is not addressed in these tests. If you are arrested on drug charges in Chicago, IL call Robert J Callahan.
Not only is the science not proven, the current scientific consensus casts doubt on using THC levels in bodily substances as a metric for impairment. In July of 2017, NHTSA submitted its “Marijuana Impaired Driving” report to Congress. Their conclusion was clear: “THC level in blood (or oral fluid) does not appear to be an accurate and reliable predictor of impairment from THC.” Unlike alcohol, where BAC levels have a clear scientific correlation to impairment, no such correlation for marijuana currently exists. This is true whether the test is on blood, breath, urine, or saliva. The basic reason for this is how our body absorbs, distributes, and eliminates THC. While BAC levels are scientifically shown to correlate with intoxication due to a steady rate of elimination, THC levels produce ambiguous results that are highly dependent on factors such as testing within 30 minutes of use and frequency of use.
Until this correlation is scientifically established, any so-called marijuana breathalyzer/swab test will be nothing more than a spit in the bucket. It will take time to establish if any correlation exists and even more time for devices to be scientifically studied and evaluated. Illinois follows the Frye standard on admissibility of scientific evidence. Frye requires that the science in question be generally accepted as reliable in the relevant scientific community to be admissible in court. Before these types of devices become legally acceptable as evidence of marijuana impairment, the Illinois Supreme Court will likely have to weigh in on the matter.
This means we are years away from seeing this type of evidence in an Illinois courtroom. But the wait may not be as long as we think. In February of 2016, a California trial court admitted the saliva results from a Draeger 5000 in a trial for vehicular manslaughter. The test results indicated the presence of methamphetamine. Aside from the likely appeal in this case, countless more cases and years of legislating are sure to follow.
Any way you look at it, this is the future of DUI cannabis/drug laws. Along with biological tests, development of cognitive, behavioral, and psychomotor tests to detect marijuana impairment will also likely arise. NHTSA’s report to Congress sets forth such a goal. Increasing Drug Recognition training for officers will continue to expand regardless of technological advances in testing. The future of drug driving detection will likely rely both on the development of biological testing and increased officer training. Michigan also recently implemented a pilot program for roadside saliva tests that requires the officer administering the test to be an officer trained in drug recognition.
Drug DUI detection is a difficult task for law enforcement. With the changing environment and attitudes toward marijuana, the science of cannabis impairment is the new frontier. Make no mistake, as marijuana becomes legal across the country, a legally acceptable & reliable marijuana impairment test, or set of tests, will be developed. But there is still so much to be learned. As the science and law evolves, you need a law firm that isn’t behind the curve. At Robert Callahan and Associates, we know what the law was, is now, and what it’s about to become. We do this through tireless dedication to our clients and the practice of law. If you have a marijuana DUI or any type of cannabis/drug case, call us at 312 322 9000 to discuss your case. You know may know your facts, but we know the law. Contact Robert J Callahan to defend your rights in a drug related case in Illinois.
Cannabis detection devices being tested by law enforcement & on the market:
Protzek: P.I.A.2 Cost: $6,000 - $8,000 Places in use: Carol Stream, IL http://www.protzekusa.com/
Draeger5000: Cost: $6,000 First use in US: 2009 Places in use: CA, NV, AZ, NY, Australia, Belgium, Germany https://www.draeger.com/en-us_us/Alcohol-and-Drug-Detection/Productselector/Breath-Alcohol-and-Drug-Testing/Drug-Testing-Devices
Hound Labs: Cost: $600-$1000 Places in use: currently being field tested in CA. The CEO of Hound labs is Mike Lynn, an emergency room doctor and a reserve deputy sheriff for Alameda County. https://houndlabs.com/
Alere DDS2 Cost: $1,000-$1,500 Places in use: MI, CA https://www.alere.com/en/home/product-details/dds2-mobile-test-system.html
Cannabix Technologies (Canada) Beta 3.0 Cannabis Breathalyzer *This company claims that this device measures marijuana intoxication, however, its research has been in house but was recently approved for field testing in January. http://www.cannabixtechnologies.com/news-releases.html