Saliva tests implemented for suspected impaired drivers

| Jun 9, 2021 | DUI |

Alabama motorists give implied consent and agree to undergo breath and blood tests for suspected drunk driving when they obtain their driver’s licenses. A new law in this state expands implied consent for saliva or oral fluid tests for determining whether a motorist is impaired by drugs. Suspected impaired drivers should promptly seek a criminal defense attorney when police stop them and use this expanded power.

DUI tests

Police can administer a preliminary breath test to determine whether there is probable cause to make a DUI stop for a suspected drunk driver. Motorists can refuse to undergo this test.

Implied consent plays a role when an officer determines that a driver is impaired and makes an arrest based upon factors such as observations and field sobriety tests. Licensed motorists agreed under implied consent to undergo a chemical test of breath, blood, or urine for alcohol after a DUI arrest. These usually are conducted at a police station or jail.

Drivers who refuse these tests face an automatic 90-day license suspension before a DUI conviction. The suspension is at least one year for repeat offenders.

Oral fluid tests

In addition to these tests, the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences also oversees an oral fluid drug testing. The ADFS approved three roadside oral fluid screening devices for police use to establish probable cause.

Since 2018, the ADFS also manages a more extensive program of oral fluid tests for post arrests to confirm the presence and level of drugs. The saliva is taken at roadside stops with a Quantisal collection device.

Law expands implied consent

Just recently, the Governor signed SB258 which expands implied consent to the saliva tests. Until passage of this law, saliva tests could be administered only under a judge’s order or with the driver’s express consent. Previously, implied consent applied to drug-impaired driving only if there was a serious injury or fatality

Now drivers who refuse a saliva test face automatic license suspension. Implied consent is also extended to cover all impairing substances in addition to alcohol.

Other changes

Paramedics and phlebotomists can now draw driver’s blood for testing. Before this law, drawing blood was limited to doctors, nurses, and other qualified persons.

Police may also testify on the results of horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This is a field sobriety test which is used to detect involuntary jerking of eyes which could be a sign of impairment.

These arrests can have long-term consequences. Attorneys can help protect your rights and challenge evidence.