Minnesota law enforcement testing out drug detecting devices during traffic stops
Law enforcement from all corners of the state came to Maple Grove on Friday morning for training on a new mobile oral fluid testing device that can be used to detect drugs in a driver’s system.
Minnesota’s Legislature legalized marijuana in the state last summer for adults.
The bill also included a $15 million component for funding additional law enforcement training to detect impaired drivers — and funding for a pilot program for mobile drug detection devices.
“My hope with this device is in the future that it makes the job of detecting and proving impairment more objective — and more scientifically sound with more evidence,” said Colonel Matt Langer with the Minnesota State Patrol.
Right now, there is no machine used by Minnesota law enforcement to detect drugs in the driver’s system during a roadside traffic stop.
During a demonstration, an officer handed a person a collection device that is then rubbed inside their mouth like a toothbrush for a short period of time.
The saliva sample is then put into a machine that screens for six types of drugs, including cannabis.
“We’re not demanding or making anybody participate in this,” said Mike Hanson, director of the Office of Traffic Safety at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Only after an officer conducts a traditional roadside impairment test, Hanson said will a person be then asked if they’d like to take part in the pilot project.
“It cannot be used by the officer to help determine probable cause for the arrest, we are simply doing a data collection, we are evaluating the effectiveness and accuracy of these instruments,” Hanson said.
More than 70 devices were handed out to law enforcement who are specially trained drug recognition evaluators.
After the pilot project finishes, DPS said its goal is to ask for legislative approval in 2025, in hopes of being able to use the devices as a screening tool to help detect drivers impaired by drugs.
The state is trying out two brands of testing devices, So Toxa Oral Fluid Mobile Analyzer and the Drager-DrugTest 5000, starting this winter.
According to the State Patrol, drugged driving accounted for 8,069 DWI incidents from 2013-2017 compared with 15,810 from 2018-2022.
There is no traffic data available from the State Patrol since cannabis was legalized last summer.