Current breathalizers are designed to detect alcohol levels. However, developments are taking place in terms of changing this. A new device that was recently developed by Swedish researchers is able to detect as many as 12 different substances. The substances that the device can detect include morphine, marijuana, cocaine, heroine and methamphetamine. All of these are known as “street drugs”, which means many people use them and hence could be driving while under the influence of them.
In the majority of states, laws prohibit driving while under the influence of drugs. However, there is currently no way to detect whether or not someone is under the influence at the roadside. As a result, they need to actually arrest people in order to take them to the station for a urine or blood test. It is not possible to charge an alleged offender without this test. If the new Swedish device becomes readily available, however, the presence of drugs could be detected at the roadside. In clinical trials, the breathalizer was able to detect the presence of drugs up to 24 hours after they were taken. The device isn’t perfect yet, but it has been able to accurately detect drugs in 87% of cases. A lot of people would say that the accuracy should be higher, but it is just as high as standard urine and blood tests. However, it is likely that defense lawyers will request a blood or urine test to confirm the results if someone is charged.
The Central for Disease Control recently reported that driving under the influence of drugs other than alcohol is responsible for 18% of all fatal car accident. A third of all traffic deaths are related to driving under the influence of alcohol. Each year, 1.4 million people are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Hence, any breathalizer will have to continue to detect alcohol as well. However, if they detect drugs as well, then this would be a very positive development. Some are even suggesting that other types of crime could go down. Car theft could potentially go down, because users would be more worried about getting caught. At the minute, they often believe there is a chance they will get away with it, if they can stall the period between their arrest and doing a blood or urine test. It takes only 24 hours for most drugs to be undetectable by blood or urine tests, unless the drugs test checks the full DNA. Hence, people often claim that they did indeed use drugs, but that the effects weren’t noticeable anymore by the time they were arrested.