LAPD performing a drug checkpoint. (Source: NBC Los Angeles)
LOS ANGELES, CA — As drivers prove their innocence at warrantless police checkpoints this New Year, they will not only be scrutinized over their potential consumption of alcohol. A new technology will enable the police to detect and arrest drivers for having marijuana, narcotics, and “other drugs” in their bloodstreams.
The recently unveiled device is a portable saliva swab analyzer, capable of immediately sampling body fluids for the presence of foreign intoxicants. The machines were paid for by grants from the state.
“Traditionally, our office has focused on drunken driving cases,” Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said. “We’re expanding drug collection and aggressively enforcing all impaired-driving laws.”
The city attorney said that he had “anecdotal” evidence that medical marijuana users were endangering the streets. The new tactics were applauded by the checkpoint lobbyist group, MADD.
During police roadblocks, drivers are stopped without probable cause and forced into non-consensual interactions with government agents in which they must demonstrate their sobriety before being allowed to continue traveling down the public street.
The saliva swabs are but one of the searches that police can coerce a driver into allowing. Should the driver refuse a saliva search, the police can seek a warrant for a forced blood draw. Often in large checkpoint operations, a judge is placed on-call or on-site to sign such warrants to confiscate blood.
Such events are called “No Refusal” checkpoints, and they are gaining popularity in many states, such as Tennessee and Georgia. And with the new focus on targeting marijuana and narcotics, we can probably expect to see more of them than ever.
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