Amid a holiday-season crackdown on drunken driving across the region, authorities on Friday highlighted a new device that allows them to test for the presence of drugs on the spot.
A new portable tool that can be used at sobriety checkpoints — alongside the existing Breathalyzer, which tests for blood-alcohol content — to check oral fluids for the presence of drugs, according to authorities.
Officers can ask drivers — who must consent to the voluntary test — to swab themselves around their gum line and cheek. The tip that’s used is placed into a portable machine for instant results.
Standing with a representative from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Los Angeles Police Department officials demonstrated the device at a news conference Friday.
The announcement about the technology came amid a crackdown on DUI offenses that is slated to last through New Year’s Day.
“Enjoy the holiday, but don’t be one of those statistics that ends up in the morgue or ends up in jail,” LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said a state grant was funding the expanded swab testing. He cited the growth of medical marijuana use as one reason the tests were needed, saying the he wanted to push for further testing of drug use among suspected impaired drivers.
The new tests, which takes eight minutes, screen for cocaine, benzodiazepine (Xanax), methamphetamine, amphetamines, narcotic analgesics, methadone and THC representative of marijuana, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Results from the test, which so far has been used about 50 times, have not been submitted as evidence in a city criminal case, the newspaper reported.
Thousands of people have already been arrested this month on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to figures released in several Southern California counties.
KTLA’s Kareen Wynter contributed to this article.
KTLA - December 27, 2013
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