ANN ARBOR, MI – No, police say, they aren’t randomly selecting drivers to try out their new roadside drug testing pilot program.
They aren’t targeting medical marijuana users either, just trying to make sure they aren’t driving impaired.
Those were two points law enforcement officials attempted to convey during the latest session of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office community education series on Wednesday, Jan. 17 at the county Learning Resource Center.
The session, led by Michigan State Police First Lt. Jim Flegel, focused on the state’s one-year roadside drug testing pilot program.
Washtenaw County is one of five participating counties, along with Berrien, Delta, Kent and St. Clair.
It means specially trained law enforcement agents in the county are empowered to conduct oral fluid tests if they suspect someone is driving impaired, Flegel told the crowd of about 20 people present and the about 900 viewers, as of 10 p.m. Wednesday, of a Facebook Live recording.
The reasoning for the program, results of which will be sent to the state legislature, is simple – Michigan saw a 32 percent rise in impaired driving fatalities from 2015 to 2016, Flegel said.
For example, he pointed to incidents including the suspected drugged-driving crash that killed five bicyclists in 2016 in Kalamazoo, and the death of couple that inspired the bill supporting the program – the Barbara J. and Thomas J. Swift Law.
“We really have to hammer home the education portion of it – that it’s not okay to drive impaired on any form,” he said. “Whether its alcohol or controlled substances, you can’t do it. You’re endangering yourselves and your endangering other innocent people out there on the road.”