TPD Testing 'Saliva Tests' to Check for Drugs - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

TPD Testing 'Saliva Tests' to Check for Drugs

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Get pulled over for suspicion of driving while intoxicated right now, and the only instant test to see what's in your system is for alcohol. But Tulsa is testing a test for the future.

"This is strictly a study, it's volunteer, as far as the subjects," said Tulsa police officer Craig Murray.

Since the end of June, four officers have been equipped with kits that test saliva on the spot, but not for booze for...

"Cannabis, cocaine, meth amphetamine, opiates," he said.

Something that you'd normally have to do with a blood test, which can take anywhere from hours to weeks. Some of the field reviews so far...

"Another officer says, 'I think it's a neat machine, I like how it tells us more of what's in their system,'" he said.

None of the test results are being used against anyone, but it's a glimpse of a possible policing future that doesn't have everyone thrilled.

"We're removing subjective judgement and replacing it with this test, and that's what I don't like," said attorney Zach Smith, who specializes in DUI cases, and worries that raw data could override field observations.

"I've seen videos of people who are acting just fine, and talking just fine, yet because their blood alcohol concentration or their breath test was .08 or higher, they were arrested and charged with a DUI," he said.

So far, one of the saliva tests has had a somewhat similar situation.

"Then it showed positive for cocaine in a subject who did not seem impaired, but cocaine is a residual," he said.

The person wasn't arrested, but would they be in the future? Saliva testing, a policing tool of speed that can also cause instant uneasiness.

"If you would like to do part of your story is to swab," asked Murray. "Oh on me, no, no, no," responded Burt.  "Oh, we know there's something in there. I promise I won't test it. Wink, wink," laughed Murray.

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