Field Test of On-Site
Drug Detection Devices
Final Report -- October 2000
The findings and conclusions discussed above lead the research team to propose the following recommendations:
1. Although previous studies have demonstrated that drug use by erratic, injured, and fatally injured drivers is a problem, these studies (and the current study) all have a serious and common limitation. Principally, as pointed out by Compton and Anderson (1985), the research was not designed to provide an estimate of the extent of drug use by the general driving public. This is a very important consideration in determining whether drug use is over represented in erratic, injured and fatally injured drivers. Previously, study populations have been selected from drivers who have either made an observed driving error, been injured in a crash, or been killed in a crash. Clearly, this is a select group that does not necessarily reflect the general driving population. A study is needed that can sample drivers in a more comprehensive fashion to gain a fuller and more accurate understanding of the prevalence of drug use in the general driving population as opposed to drug use in these select populations.
2. The detection of drugs in addition to the standard DOT/DHHS testing battery in the current study indicates that additional drugs must be included in this battery when testing samples collected from DUI drivers. At a minimum, specimens should be tested for the presence of hydromorphone, hydrocodone and additional chemical analogs of the sympathomimetic amines. A study of samples collected from DUI arrestees that included a "comprehensive" urinalysis drug screen would assist also in identifying additional drugs and metabolites that may be present but typically are not detected. Obtaining urinalysis drug screening information along with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) would provide additional data on the percentage of arrestees who typically would not be charged with a drugs and driving offense because their BACs were sufficiently high to warrant the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.
3. Periodic studies similar to that described above (2) are needed to identify changes in drug use patterns to ensure that drugs such as MDMA do not go undetected in DUI drivers. The current DOT/DHHS testing battery does not include newer drugs of abuse such as MDMA or ketamine (Vitamin K, Special K) and should be expanded to include these drugs.
4. Additional consideration should be given to reducing the MS confirmation cutoff concentration for highway safety use. In this study, decreasing the confirmation concentrations by one-half would have greatly reduced the number of cases that would have resulted in an unconfirmed positive based on MS testing.
5. A standard assessment protocol should be developed to evaluate new on-site devices prior to their use in DUI testing. Selection of the devices in this study was done systematically and with great detail to ensure that the selected devices were made by experienced immunoassay manufacturers and that their reliability was documented in the literature. However, there are numerous devices on and entering the market that may or may not have comparable performance.
6. Specific and detailed training materials and procedures need to be developed to assist law enforcement personnel to use the on-site devices. Discrepancies between the error rates of the on-site research analysts and the law enforcement officers indicate that additional training is needed before these devices can be used effectively in a law enforcement setting.
7. Finally, the use of on-site devices, such as those evaluated in this field test appear to provide supplemental information to enhance the capabilities of law enforcement officers responsible for enforcing drug impaired driving laws. Law enforcement agencies may want to consider the use of these devices, while understanding and attending to the issues of training and confirmation procedures raised in this study, as one component in the enforcement of drug impaired driving laws.
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