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Impaired driving, part 2: new test for drugged driving

In the first part of this post, heading into New Year's Eve, we discussed law enforcement efforts to deter drunk driving.

We noted that these efforts do not only include stepped-up patrols. They also include getting the word out through the media about the costs of a drunk-driving arrest.

In this part of the post, we will discuss a new portable drug test for impaired driving being used in Los Angeles County.

The test is not mandatory, but is being used on a voluntary basis. It involves an oral swab. The swab is rubbed inside someone's mouth and is supposed to screen for several different drugs.

These drugs include:
• Cocaine
• Marijuana (the chemical compound THC)
• Methamphetamine
• Methadone
• Xanax (benzodiazepine)
• Narcotic analgesics

The portable test of oral fluids extracted through the mouth swab takes only eight minutes. Though authorities in Los Angeles County are encouraging its use, evidence from the test has not yet been used in court.

It remains to be seen, then, just how effective the new test will be as a deterrent to drugged driving. But the availability of such a test could definitely help authorities to more effectively prosecute drugged-driving cases in California.

More effective prosecution of those cases would help to prevent car accidents caused by drugged driving.

Historically, many jurisdictions have focused much of their impaired-driving enforcement efforts on drunk driving. The availability of portable breath tests, in the form of breathalyzer machines or similar devices, has facilitated this.

But drugged driving is also a serious problem. And so is driving that is impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Portable drug test a new addition at New Year's DUI checkpoints," Paresh Dave, Dec. 27, 2013

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