According to a Governors Highway Safety Association report regarding fatal accidents nationwide, more drivers tested positive for drugs in their systems than for alcohol in 2015. Law enforcement officials in Illinois have claimed that they can often see the effects of drugs on drivers but cannot identify the precise substance or measure the exact amount that is present in the body during a traffic stop. In February 2018, however, police in the northwestern portion of the state will begin conducting a new roadside test that is designed to determine both.
Because the state of Illinois no longer defines intoxication as the presence of trace amounts of a drug in the bloodstream, the introduction of new testing technology is a timely development. The mobile testing system could indicate whether state-mandated thresholds for controlled substances have been exceeded. The roadside tests will be conducted in Carol Stream where police will be able to screen drivers for meth, amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana and opiates like heroin.
The courts will require proof that the scientific community has deemed the testing consistent, reliable and accurate before prosecutors will be able to present the results as conclusive evidence, so the testing will begin as a voluntary process. The roadside oral fluid test results of drivers who are willing to give saliva samples to police when invited to do so will later be checked against their blood test results for accuracy.
Although police want to show that the portable test provides the needed results quickly and reliably, roadside tests are not infallible, and law enforcement officials do not always follow all protocols as strictly required. For these reasons, Illinois residents who find themselves facing drunk driving or drug charges following implementation of the new test may find it beneficial to seek a case evaluation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.