People automatically assume the term DUI applies only to alcohol, but it also refers to those guilty of opiate abuse or other drug use. Police on the lookout for drivers operating vehicles while under the influence have been equipped with portable instant drug test kits. If you get stopped for questionable driving and you’re using opiates, you may well be handed over for prosecution, even if you have a prescription.
The portable instant drug kits made big news about a year ago when law enforcement officials in Alameda County announced they were going after those guilty of opiate abuse or use of benzodiazepines, cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamines, and even THC. The suspect submits to a swab inserted inside his cheek which gives an instant reading, and a second sample of saliva is also collected and stored in case it is needed to verify the initial results.
If police decide that someone’s driving seems questionable, they can pull them over and ask permission to test them. Submission to the test for opiate abuse and other drugs is voluntary. However, if the police arrest you for suspicion of driving while intoxicated—no matter what the substance—you no longer have the right to refuse the test.
These tests for abuse of drugs only seem to make the news around holiday times—not just Christmas but Memorial Day, Independence Day, and any event when the roads are likely to be traveled by drivers who have celebrated a little too much. However, the swabs have pretty much become standard equipment in the drug test arsenal used by law enforcement officers.
Use of the tests falls under the umbrella of the Sunshine Law, which gives a suspect the option to decline and go immediately under police custody to a facility for blood testing. The question is will you have more opiates in your system if you wait to take the drug test, or will the drugs be metabolized by your body by then?
About a year ago, police in some states paid volunteers to submit to the swabbing—ten bucks a pop in Alabama, for example. In St. Louis, cops were paying a Benjamin for the Q-up, and pretty much comprising the results of positive tests. Those guilty of opiate abuse in Alameda County, in and around Los Angeles, were given no choice and no reward. No two hundred dollars, and go directly to jail.
The Sunshine Laws that apply to blood testing in some areas require suspects to testify that the blood test was painless. In the case of mouth swabs, there certainly is no pain, and nobody can dispute whose saliva was on the swab. Many police expressed a preference for the swabs over urine tests, as well, because defendants can alter or substitute urine during drug testing.
Opiate Abuse Testing
While laws lack clarity for mouth swabs used to test for opiates and other drug abuse, it’s only a matter of time until buccal swabs, as they are called, become a cut-and-dried procedure. It means, too, that anybody taking drugs and driving has to wake up and realize that he’s putting others at risk with his behaviors and he has just as much culpability for his actions as a person who drinks and drives.
If you get arrested for a positive test, whether it’s alcohol, cocaine, or opiate abuse, you stand to pay at least $12,000 in court costs and legal fees. Maybe it’s time to decide you are simply going to quit. 866.840.6658