Police watch for stoned drivers but lack foolproof drug test - InformationBoxTicket


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Police watch for stoned drivers but lack foolproof drug test

Police will still be on the lookout for stoned drivers, even though there’s no foolproof test yet.
Officers will continue giving roadside checks, similar to field sobriety tests, with different prompts to determine if the driver is on drugs, according to Walpole police Chief John Carmichael, who serves on the  Special Commission on Operating Under the Influence and Impaired Driving.
“If a person is high, we have to handle it,” Carmichael said. “Are there tools out there that can make our jobs easier? Absolutely. Are there law changes that can make our job easier? Absolutely. That’s our job now is to enhance the tools we have but make it better so it’s more accurate and, when it does get to court, they have evidentiary value of each specific case to win the case.”
Officers can still log physical behavior of the driver: if they have glassy blood shot eyes, drowsiness, lack of coordination, lack of concentration. Those observations are all still valid, Carmichael said.
“We just can’t testify in the same way we’ve done with alcohol,” he added.
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security is also working to increase the number of law enforcement representatives who are trained in the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) and Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) programs, which teach officers to detect drug impairment in drivers. There are currently 155 officers who are certified DREs and 1,402 who are ARIDE trained, officials said.
“I’m going to suggest every police officer in Massachusetts be trained in ARIDE,” Carmichael said.
State police are also wrapping up a pilot program, in conjunction with the Massachusetts District Attorney’s Association and a private lab, in which they took voluntary oral swabs from drivers to test for drugs. That study is being finalized.
“The fact that there is no equivalent to the Breathalyzer for suspected drugged drivers is a challenge for law enforcement agencies across the country,” said state police spokesman Dave Procopio. “We are hopeful that advancements in drug detection will rectify that.”

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