Roadside saliva testing for weed impairment is something that’s popping up more and more. But these tests are usually inaccurate — and probably unconstitutional.
Cannabis is being legalized across the U.S. at a very rapid rate, and with that, states are trying to find ways to keep potentially impaired drivers off the road. One way that police have devised to do this is by conducting warrantless roadside saliva testing.
During a roadside saliva test, a police officer takes a saliva sample from the driver’s mouth and inserts the swab into a machine, that can supposedly detect certain controlled substances that might be in the driver’s system.
The problem with these tests is that they only detect the presence of drugs (legal and illegal) and, unlike an alcohol breathalyzer, a saliva test doesn’t detect levels of actual impairment.
The ACLU says this practice is very intrusive and probably unconstitutional, because roadside stops are considered a seizure under the Fourth Amendment, and because saliva tests show positive for prescriptions, too. They will likely result in longer seizures for drivers who are lawfully taking certain medications.
So, while improving driver safety is important, it shouldn’t come at the cost of the driver’s civil liberties.