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Legislation to address drugged driving includes saliva testing


State lawmakers are debating a package of bills intended to get repeat drug offenders off the road.

Under the bills, drivers pulled over for erratic driving could be asked to submit to a saliva test. Current law provides for blood, breath and urine testing.

State Representative Dan Lauwers sponsored the legislation. He acknowledged critics who dispute the accuracy of the saliva tests.

"There's already states like California experimenting with it," he said.  "And we're just really looking to the future to say if those things come approved by the state crime lab, law officers would have the ability to use that as well."

Lauwers said the bills do not condition the saliva tests on the science becoming more certain.

He said that at today's House Judiciary Committee hearings on the bills,  medical marijuana users expressed concerns that the tests could show the presence of marijuana,  whether or not drivers had recently used the drug. He said he agrees that in that instance, a saliva test would not prove that you  had been driving under the influence.

"I think we're going to see an amendment that would allow a medical marijuana user to produce their card if they were pulled over and that that would exempt them from the saliva test," he said.

Lauwers said the bills will give suspected drugged drivers the same consequences as suspected drunk drivers. That means following arrest, they would be issued temporary paper permits, and their names would go into a law enforcement database (LEIN) while their cases are under review.

Virginia Gordan,  Michigan Radio Newsroom