Saliva Swab May Determine If Drivers Are Impaired

Saliva Swab May Determine If Drivers Are Impaired
Posted by CN Staff on June 17, 2003 at 12:06:28 PT
By Tasha Williams 
Source: Salt Lake Tribune 
"Shy-bladder syndrome" won't spare impaired motorists from taking drug tests, if a Utah police sergeant has his way.   Sgt. Dennis Simonson of the Logan Police Department requested a $5,800 grant from the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to launch the first pilot study in the country using roadside saliva detection devices. The new tool, RapiScan, which is manufactured by Cozart, detects drugs in a driver's system using a saliva swab.
Saliva is an immediate sample of what is circulating in a person's bloodstream, said Michael Beaubien, Cozart vice president for North American operations.   "The purpose is to allow people to understand that we have a new tool," Simonson said. "If you're going to smoke [drugs], stay home. Stay off the highway."   If the one-year pilot project is approved, officers will start using the swabs July 1 to detect the presence of cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana and opiates in drivers suspected of using drugs, Simonson said.   The ACLU doesn't follow each technological advance, said Dani Eyer, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, but the organization supports tools by law enforcement where use is based on individual suspicion, provided the tools are technologically sound and are properly handled.  The device will screen for drugs the way Breathalyzers are used now to screen for alcohol. If a driver fails the roadside saliva test, he or she will undergo a blood test, which is admissible in court, said Paul Boyden, director of the Statewide Association of Prosecutors.   Obtaining saliva is "more dignified" than collecting urine, which also is used for drug testing, Beaubien said. Because a female officer can collect a sample from a male and vice versa, the device eliminates uncomfortable situations and the shy-bladder problem (the inability to urinate while being watched).  Simonson hopes that those who fail the test eventually will have to pay the $15 cost on the one-time use devices.   Currently, the swab test is used only in juvenile probation and parole testing in New Mexico and California, Beaubien said.   Utah is the only state to show significant interest in the pilot program, he said. RapiScan is used in the United Kingdom and in parts of Europe, but just received FDA approval in November. Complete Title:  Saliva Swab May Determine If Drivers Are Drug Impaired Source: Salt Lake Tribune (UT)Author: Tasha Williams Published: June 17, 2003Copyright: 2003 The Salt Lake TribuneContact: letters sltrib.comWebsite: Related Articles & Web Site:ACLU Plans Breathalyzer-Like Drug Test for Drivers Impairs Driving More than Marijuana
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