Senate approves Jones’ bill to crack down on drivers under the influence of drugs

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Wednesday voted in support of legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones to create a pilot program enabling certain law enforcement officers to conduct roadside saliva tests on motorists suspected of being under the influence of controlled substances.

“Drugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “This legislation is about helping keep Michigan roads as safe as possible by making it easier for law enforcement to crack down on driving under the influence of a controlled substance.”

Under Senate Bill 207, a pilot program would run for a year in five counties that would be determined by the Michigan State Police (MSP). To be eligible for consideration in the program, counties must have at least one certified drug enforcement officer on duty.

Drivers in the participating counties who are stopped under reasonable cause would have their mouths swabbed to test saliva for the presence of a cannabis, opiates, cocaine and methamphetamine.

“The procedure is similar to that of a breathalyzer test for alcohol,” Jones said. “Most importantly, it can help get dangerous drivers off the road.”

After the pilot program concludes, MSP would be required to produce a report for the Legislature that indicates what counties were selected and why; the types of law enforcement agencies involved; and relevant data including the number of arrests and resulting convictions for driving under the influence of controlled substances as determined by the roadside tests.

Jones’ bill and SB 434, sponsored by Sen. Tom Casperson, stem from an incident in the Upper Peninsula in which an apparently intoxicated driver high on marijuana caused a tragic accident.

The measures now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.