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Marinette police use saliva tests to detect drugs

  • Associated Press
  • September 11, 2013 - 10:25 AM

MARINETTE, Wis. — Police in northeastern Wisconsin have begun using a new saliva test that can tell them in eight minutes whether drivers have drugs in their system.

The tests aren't yet admissible in court, but the results can help validate police judgment and guide them on how to proceed with a suspect, WBAY-TV reported (http://bit.ly/15RH2w2 ).

The so-called Drager machine can analyze a saliva sample for the presence of seven kinds of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and marijuana. Officers can use the machine when they suspect a driver is intoxicated but alcohol tests come back negative, Marinette Police Sgt. Scott Ries said.

"It's very, very difficult for them to tell sometimes. Sometimes the signs are subtle, and when that occurs, sometimes somebody who's actually impaired can get away with being involved in being in a crash or hurting somebody and not be charged," Ries said.

Marinette County Judge Jim Morrison said he was pleased to see the new technology come to his county, where he said the drug problem is "awful." He said he'd like to see the machines incorporated into the newly forming Marinette County Drug Court.

"People in drug court in the early stages get tested for drugs daily, so we need these tools," he said. "We just want to know are you dirty or are you clean?"

A community group raised the $6,000 to pay for the Drager machine. Police will cover the $20 cost for the individual swab tests.

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