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Police looking to add portable drug testing for drivers

Illinois residents should be aware that some authorities in the state intend to test out new methods to determine if drivers have taken drugs. For example, officers in Carol Stream will begin using mouth swabs to test for a variety of drugs, including cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamine and marijuana.

If the process works, officers will have portable drug testing tools to help take impaired drivers off the road. The test uses a cheek swab to give officers information on the amount of the drug that is present. In order for a motorist to be taken into custody for driving under the influence of drugs, however, there are certain impairment thresholds that they must meet.

Before the cheek swabs can be used as evidence in court, the test must be shown to be consistent, accurate and reliable through scientific testing. In February, Carol Stream authorities will begin testing the device on a voluntary basis by asking drivers to give a saliva sample. The saliva sample will then be compared to any blood tests that are conducted after to determine accuracy and consistency.

Before an alleged offender can be charged with drug crimes, authorities must be able to prove that they were either under the influence or in possession of drugs. However, drug tests can be improperly conducted or the results can be compromised. If authorities attempt to use this evidence in court to convict a person on drug charges, a criminal law attorney may challenge the results of the tests. In some cases, the attorney could even keep the results out of the courtroom, weakening the prosecution's case and potentially causing them to either reduce the charges or dismiss the charges altogether.

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