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Alabama police can now perform saliva tests on suspected drugged drivers

On Behalf of | Nov 11, 2021 | DUI

A recent change to Alabama’s criminal procedure laws means that a police officer can now require you to undergo a saliva test during a traffic stop if they believe you were driving while impaired by drugs. If you refuse, you will lose your driver’s license for three months.

This summer, lawmakers expanded the state’s implied consent law when it comes to police traffic stops based on suspected impaired driving. You might know that Alabamans with a driver’s license have operated for a long time under an “implied consent” (meaning you never personally agreed to it) that if a police officer asks you to perform a DUI breath test, you will comply. Declining to take the test is not a crime, but it automatically triggers a driver’s license suspension that lasts 90 days.

Speeding up drugged driving investigations

Now officers can do the same thing, but for saliva testing for the presence of controlled substances like marijuana and methamphetamines, as well as certain prescription drugs that can affect your ability to drive. Before this change, law enforcement mainly relied on blood tests, which required a search warrant. Authorities say the time it takes to obtain a warrant and bring the driver to a hospital to perform the blood draw can cause signs of drugs in the suspect’s system to fade away. The law also gives EMTs the right to draw an impaired driving suspect’s blood on the road.

You still have rights

Despite the increased power this law gives police, officers still must follow proper procedures. If an officer violates your legal rights during a traffic stop, it might be enough for the judge to toss out some or all of the evidence against you.