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Michigan's Pilot Saliva Swab Drug Testing Program Controversy

Photo by Pixabay Published November 07, 2017 Updated May 13, 2020

Michigan Police will begin a one-year pilot program on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, using handheld devices to drug test driver's saliva who are suspected of operating a motor vehicle while being under the influence of illicit substances.  12 Michigan agencies within 5 Michigan counties will take part in the program, Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair & Washtenaw.  The pilot program will cost the Michigan State Police and the citizens of Michigan roughly $30,000, including $6,000 apiece for the Alere DDS2 Monitors & $25 for each roadside kit according to the House Fiscal Agency.  

The device, Alere DDS2 Mobile Test System, will be used as a roadside test that will be carried out by a total of 26 Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) who have received advanced training in assessing drug and alcohol impairment.  Alere claims the DDS2 Mobile Test System will provide an optimal combination of speed, ease of use, reliability & accuracy for those on the police force, drug treatment centers, and in the workplace. The device is said to be capable of testing for amphetamine, benzothiazines, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, and opiates so long as the driver has enough saliva to complete the testing.  If the driver refuses the test, it will result in a civil infraction much like those who refuse an alcohol breathalyzer test.  These tests will not be administered at roadblocks or at DUI Checkpoints due to pre-existing laws in Michigan making it illegal to do so. 

Currently, Alere is in a medical lawsuit for their product line, Alere Monitoring System.  Consumers on blood thinners filed suit against the company because their Alere INRatio2 devices were not providing accurate readings of their blood clotting ability.  The consumers of this product chose to do their testing at home instead of in the lab by using their Alere InRatio2, INRatio2 PT/INR Monitor System, or INRatio Test Strips to monitor their International Normalized Ratio (INR) while undergoing anticoagulation therapy.  After several deaths, the product has been recalled and there are allegations against Alere claiming the manufacture had known the product was faulty and Alere failed to inform the United States government, healthcare providers, and the general public within a reasonable amount of time.  Alere is attempting to withdraw the lawsuit. 

Michigan State Police spokesperson F/Lt. Mike Shaw stated that after the pilot program the state police have 90 days to file a report to Michigan State Legislature regarding the outcome of the program.  After the report is reviewed by Michigan lawmakers, it will then be decided if the pilot program is expanded into other counties, statewide or if they should toss out the entire program. 

Using a company such as Alere, who has a lawsuit against them for false-positive readings, would make one question the validity of the final report from the Michigan State Police to the Michigan lawmakers and the general public.   As well as the safety of the innocent citizens of Michigan or those passing through who may come across another one of Alere's false positive readings costing them thousands in court fees, potentially their freedom and/or families all while wasting taxpayers money on imprisoning or prosecuting innocent victims of Alere products.

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