Concern over roadside saliva testing bill - WNEM TV 5

Concern over roadside saliva testing bill

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Drunk driving is a major concern for law enforcement, but there is a growing problem lawmakers in Lansing want to address called drugged driving.

A new bill in the Michigan house aimed at cracking down at repeat offenders is drawing some criticism from the legal community.

"I don't like this at all," said Ed Czuprynski, Bay City attorney, regarding a new bill making its way through the Michigan house. "It infringes on people's rights."

The goal of the bill is to get repeat drugged driving offenders off the road. Czuprynski has no problem with that, but one part of the bill is making him cringe.

"You can't just submit to a swab test. There needs to be a court order," he said.

Czuprynski is talking about an "on the spot" saliva swab testing for marijuana.

"Just because you have traces of marijuana on you doesn't mean you are impaired by it. That's a gray area," he said.

Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel sees it differently. The sheriff said this is a useful tool and can merely indicate the condition of a driver similar to a field sobriety test.

The sheriff insists the problem is not just isolated to marijuana though. He said the use of drugs and driving, mainly prescription drugs, is becoming more and more of a problem.

"We have definitely seen more cases of drugged driving," Federspiel said.

The sheriff points to that horrific crash in March 2013 in Saginaw Township where  two sisters, Carol Lyle and Judith Kelly, were killed on impact. The sheriff said the driver who struck their vehicle was high on drugs.

"We found that he was high on fetinol. He was chewing it," Federspiel said.

The bill gives law enforcement better notification of drugged driving offenders with pending cases similar to what they already have for drunk driving offenders.

Czuprynski said he doesn't believe a saliva test, like what's being proposed, will actually hold up in court.

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