Minnesota’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) has embarked on a groundbreaking pilot program to assess the effectiveness of a saliva-based roadside cannabis impairment test, according to a report by FOX 9. The innovative test is designed to screen for six different compounds, including cannabis and opioids, with a particular emphasis on detecting recent usage within the last couple of hours.
Mike Hanson, the director of OTS, clarified that the objective is not to identify individuals who may have used cannabis or opioids several days ago but rather to pinpoint those who have consumed substances more recently. He stated to FOX 9, “We’re not looking to find somebody who used 10 days or 14 days ago; we’re looking for people who used within the last couple of hours.”
The pilot program is primarily focused on data gathering, and as such, the collected samples will be voluntary. Notably, the information obtained will not be utilized for making arrests or imposing sanctions such as license suspension or revocation.
“We’re going to get a good sampling not only in metro areas but also in the greater Minnesota areas that will give us an idea of how prevalent drug-impaired driving is on our roads,” Hanson explained to FOX 9.
Specialized law enforcement officers known as drug recognition evaluators will be equipped with the testing devices. These evaluators are trained to recognize signs of impairment caused by substances other than alcohol. In this pilot, Minnesota is utilizing the SoToxa Oral Fluid Mobile Analyzer and the Drager DrugTest 5000.
Minnesota state data reveals a concerning trend in drugged driving incidents. From 2018 to 2022, there were 15,810 reported cases, marking a significant increase compared to the 8,069 incidents recorded from 2013 to 2017. The new saliva-based test aims to provide valuable insights into the prevalence of drug-impaired driving and contribute to the development of effective strategies to enhance road safety.
As the pilot program unfolds, Minnesota’s OTS is pioneering an innovative approach to address the challenges posed by drugged driving incidents, setting the stage for potential advancements in roadside impairment testing.