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Published on January 15th, 2014 | by Daniel R. Perlman


LAPD announces Drug Detection Swab Test

…a portable tool that checks for drug use

The Los Angeles Police Department has announced plans to employ a portable tool that checks for drug use, beginning with a New Year’s Eve crackdown on intoxicated drivers. The method requires a sample of saliva from the suspected user which is then placed in a swab testing tool. A state grant supplied the LAPD with the swab testing tools that will be employed at DUI (driving under the influence) checkpoints and jails, Los Angeles officials said at a Friday press conference. Officials cited increased medical marijuana use as a main justification.

LAPD officers can ask a driver to consent to a voluntary portable oral fluids test of their gum line and cheeks. Saliva can be collected from the mouth in two ways – either swabbing or spitting. The tip of the tool is then put into a portable machine for immediate testing rather than requiring a blood test. Such blood tests have previously been necessary to verify an arrest made on the suspicion of drugged driving.

Mouth swab drug tests for drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, opiates, methadone, phencyclidine, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, and methamphetamines are included in this group.

Pros and Cons of Saliva Swab Tests

Consumption of certain medications can also affect the results of the test and provide fake positive results and it is necessary to inform the doctor if you are on any medication. Smoking can also camouflage the presence of drugs in a mouth swab drug test kit. Collecting a spit sample could give the tester the opportunity to conduct a number of tests on the same sample whereas mouth swab drug test detection only allows for a single test to be conducted on a single sample. Drug usage that is historical cannot be detected by regular swab testing. Only those drugs that are taken 12 to 24 hours prior to the test can be detected.

The oral drug test is voluntary

State law requires drivers suspected of driving under the influence to submit to a blood test but they have the right to refuse the swab. The oral test is voluntary. LA city attorneys are seeking to have it introduced as an evidential piece in the prosecutions of DUI cases. The testing is already used at some LAPD DUI checkpoints and at three stations that have jails. A $520,000 grant awarded to the L.A. City Attorney’s Office will expand the regular use of the test next year.

Daniel R. Perlman
The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman

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