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Vermont May Use Saliva Test for Drugged Driving

March 9, 2018

Photo via Psychonaught/Wikimedia.
Photo via Psychonaught/Wikimedia.

A bill that would allow Vermont police to take a saliva sample from drivers who appear drug impaired received preliminary approval by the state's House on March 1. If the bill passes in a second vote on the House floor, it will move to the Senate, according to a report in Bennington Banner.

The bill (H.237) would allow officers to pull drivers over and request the salvia sample on the spot as a "preliminary" drug test, screening drivers for cannabis as well as six other drugs including cocaine, amphetamines, and certain opiates. While results of the initial test would be inadmissible in court, if positive, an evidentiary salvia test would follow with the confirming test sent to the state laboratory for results, reports the Banner.

While the test can determine the presence of specific illegal substances, it will not be able to determine how much of a drug is in a person's system.

Currently, Vermont police rely on blood tests—which require a warrant and a hospital visit— to demonstrate that drivers are impaired by either drugs or alcohol, according to a report in the Burlington Free Press. Supporters of the legislation argue that a saliva test would be faster, more accurate and less invasive. 

In addition, proponents say the legislation is particularly critical with the state's plan to legalize recreational marijuana in July. Opponents of the bill, including the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, have voiced concerns about privacy issues and protecting driver's constitutional rights, reports the Free Press.

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