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Is instant DUI drug testing coming to California?

Most people are familiar with the Breathalyzer device used by law enforcement officers to perform roadside drunk driver testing. A new breath test may soon be used to expand the types of DUI testing police are able to perform on roadsides. If a bill that is currently being considered by state lawmakers passes, new drug-detecting breath-testing devices may be put to use throughout California.

When one thinks about roadside DUI testing, alcohol use first comes to mind. However, due to concerns about drug use among California residents, state officials are considering expanding the types of roadside tests police officers are able to perform. Current law states that those who carry California drivers' licenses automatically consent to blood testing should they be pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence of drugs. This bill would change the law for California drivers' license holders to include consent for blood or oral fluid chemical testing.

While getting immediate results, instead of waiting for blood tests, could save time and money, there is concern about the accuracy of the device and overuse by police officers. Just as a standard Breathalyzer can give false readings, it is reasonable to believe this new drug breath-test machine may have similar flaws. Simply put, the use or overuse of this device may result in arrests that are unwarranted.

Whether this bill passes or not, a California resident who has been accused of a drug-related DUI has the right to retain legal services to help fight any charges filed against him or her. This will not necessarily be a fight that is easily won, but that does not mean cases such as this are lost causes. By questioning the results of any chemical tests performed and the officer's actions, it is possible that new information may come to light which will be of benefit to the accused in criminal court. Taking this approach may result in successfully fighting the charges at hand or in achieving a reduction in charges and/or potential penalties.

Source: thenewamerican.com, "California Bill Proposes "Drug Breathalyzers" for Police", Raven Clabough, April 22, 2015

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