By Jennifer Brice
DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado State Patrol has a new way to find out if people are driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs.
Troopers are using new saliva tests. They say there are currently only a handful of manufacturers making the saliva test and they are pilot-testing them all.
CSP began using saliva swab tests in the field last April, but it’s a voluntarily test, and under a pilot program for now.
There are five different devices are being used by CSP. Each company has different criteria being used on their tests, according to CSP. One-hundred-twenty-five troopers have been trained on the devices and are using them when a DUID suspect volunteers, according to Maj. Steve Garcia.
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“Not every trooper got the same device. We spread them out across the state,” Garcia said.
The money used to purchase the devices comes from money allotted by marijuana taxes to study the impact of Amendment 64 on our community, according to Garcia.
CSP will test these devices over a three-year period before deciding which device could become part of their routine use.
Other law enforcement agencies are being asked to join the pilot program this April, but the test will continue to be voluntary for suspect and not impact the legal process or an arrest.
Garcia says the devices are only used after law enforcement has finished their standard drug evaluation and/or blood tests required to test for driving impairment.
CSP has only had 5 percent participation by the public on the saliva tests. Of those people, CSP claims the results cannot be used by prosecutors in court because it’s a pilot program and not a current police standard test.
“The results will be used in discovery but the decision to arrest or charge was not influenced in any way based upon these devices,” Garcia said.
CSP says the pilot program of the saliva devices will evaluate the following:
– Are the devices safe for an officer to use?
– How accurate are the results?
– Are they easy to use?
– What are the end results when brought into court?
Defense attorneys CBS4 spoke with say they want drivers to know the saliva tests are voluntary, not mandatory in any way. They are concerned that the public may be confused and think they have to take the saliva test.