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New Tests Determine Whether Drivers Are Under the Influence of Drugs

 Posted on December 28, 2017 in Drugs and Narcotics

Illinois drug attorneyEvery year, around 10,000 people in the United States are killed in car accidents involving a driver who was under the influence of alcohol. In recent decades, law enforcement agencies have increased their efforts to combat drunk driving, and they are now looking to enforce laws against driving while under the influence of illegal drugs.

In 2015, the number of drivers who tested positive for drugs after being involved in a fatal accident was greater than the number of drivers who tested positive for alcohol. As more states legalize marijuana, and more people across the country abuse prescription drugs, opioids, and methamphetamine, police are looking to implement new tests that will allow them to make DUI arrests when drivers are under the influence of drugs.

Testing for Drugs

While the use of portable breathalyzers which test drivers’ blood alcohol content is common, until recently, police officers did not have methods for testing for drugs during traffic stops. However, new field tests have recently become available which use a mouth swab to test a driver’s saliva for the presence and quantity of drugs in their system.

In Illinois, police in Carol Stream will be the first to begin using these new tests on a trial basis, during which they will ask drivers to voluntarily submit to testing. While the results from these tests cannot currently be used as evidence in court, they may be used to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest, after which a blood test will be required to confirm the presence of drugs in a driver’s system. A driver who refuses a blood test is subject to a suspension of their driver’s license for one year.

Criticism of Drug Testing

While law enforcement advocates believe these tests will increase safety on the road by allowing police officers to arrest drivers who they believe are under the influence of drugs, the tests have come under fire from civil rights advocates. Since marijuana and other drugs can remain in a person’s system for days or weeks, a test which shows the presence of a drug does not necessarily mean that a driver is actually impaired.

Before field drug tests become eligible to be used as evidence in court in Illinois, they must be assessed by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board and approved by the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules. This process could take months or even years. They must also pass a judicial hearing known as a Frye test which will determine whether the scientific community considers them to be reliable and accurate. Until they meet these standards, these tests can only be used as support for arrests rather than as evidence in a DUI case.

Contact a Skokie DUI Attorney

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the attorneys at Luisi Legal Group can provide you with the defense you need and work to minimize the impact that these charges will have on your life. Contact our Chicago DUI defense lawyers at 773-276-5541 to schedule a free consultation.





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