Field Test of On-Site
Drug Detection Devices
Final Report -- October 2000

II. Purpose

This report describes results from a study funded by NHTSA to assess the utility of on-site testing devices when used by police officers. It is the first comprehensive study to systematically select the on-site devices to be used, capture a representative sample of DUI arrestees in two major urban areas, evaluate the accuracy of five on-site testing devices when used by actual arresting officers, and provide police officer subjective ratings of the on-site devices.

The study had multiple objectives. First, we needed to ensure that a sample of commercially available on-site drug screening devices -- for the purposes of police determinations of drug use by drivers -- were being assessed. The accuracy of the devices then had to be assessed against the most reliable standard available -- GC/MS tests. However, perhaps the key distinguishing element of this study was that it was a field test. This project was designed to assess how well the devices perform when they were taken out of the laboratory and placed in the hands of law enforcement personnel. This element was important because previous evaluations of these devices were performed in laboratories using trained laboratory personnel.

Specific Objectives

The study had four primary objectives:

  1. To select on-site drug screening devices for use by police for the enforcement of drugs and driving laws that best met objective and scientifically based criteria.
  2. To evaluate the accuracy of the selected on-site drug screening devices when used in a law enforcement field setting to test persons suspected of driving under the influence of a substance.
  3. To evaluate the feasibility of using on-site drug screening devices in a law enforcement field setting as supporting evidence of drug use by impaired drivers.
  4. To compare the results of on-site drug screening devices with the results of the DRE procedures.

Back -- Table of Contents -- Forward