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Roadside Testing for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Could Come to Denver

Fox 31 News in Denver reports on efforts to equip Colorado police officers with machines that can attempt to test a driver's saliva for the presence of drugs and, more likely, drug metabolites.

First, my sympathies go out to Mr. Wood for the loss of his son.  As a former paramedic, I have seen plenty of people die in accidents.  While nobody wants impaired drivers on the road, it is the job of the DUI attorney to ensure that evidence that would deprive a person accused of DUI of their liberty be scientifically valid.  The device in the story is the Dräger DrugTest® 5000.  It is a qualitative, not a quantitative machine meaning that it will report the alleged presence of certain substances but not the amount.  Additionally, it will report the presence of drug metabolites – the remnants of active drugs which are NOT evidence of impairment in any way.  This device is similar in concept to other Dräger products which attempt to determine the presence of alcohol on a person’s breath.  Because these machines are not scientifically reliable, Colorado DUI statutes specifically preclude their mention in a DUI trial.  I doubt that this new Dräger product will be any different.  I also predict that Dräger will fight attempts by DUI attorneys in Denver and elsewhere from obtaining the technical details about this product for fear of it being exposed for its lack of scientific reliability.