Police May Soon Be Able Check For Illegal Drug Use Via Breathalyzer Test

breathalyzerImagine if this Swedish invention were to become a part of stop-and-frisk. US News and World Report writes:

Police might soon be able to detect more than just alcohol on their breathing test devices. A new Swedish-designed device can detect 12 different controlled substances, including methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, morphine and marijuana.

In a study published in the Journal of Breath Research Thursday, Olof Beck, of Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, detected drugs on the breath of 47 patients at a drug addiction emergency clinic.

“Considering the samples were taken 24 hours after the intake of drugs, we were surprised to find that there was still high detectability for most drugs,” Beck said in a statement. He suggested that a breath test could be given at the scene and then confirmed with a blood test later.

39 Comments on "Police May Soon Be Able Check For Illegal Drug Use Via Breathalyzer Test"

  1. ThomasPaine | Apr 30, 2013 at 11:04 am |

    Is an 87% accuracy rate good enough for release for official use?

    • emperorreagan | Apr 30, 2013 at 11:47 am |

      Standard drug tests produce false positives in the 5-10% range.

      The abstract for this article notes detecting substances that users didn’t self report at a rate of 23%. Would have to get the whole article to see their analysis of that – what portion of that is due to inaccurate self-reporting and what portion is due to false positive results.

      Official use? Policy writers don’t mind screwing people over at rates above 10% to make it look like they’re doing something…or to get kick backs on lucrative contracts through speaking fees or job opportunities down the road.

      • ThomasPaine | Apr 30, 2013 at 12:17 pm |

        thank you, great insight

      • Calypso_1 | Apr 30, 2013 at 11:54 pm |

        Which means for drugs like cocaine there are far more guilty non-users than actual users.

        • emperorreagan | May 1, 2013 at 10:42 am |

          Drug testing is really just a means of control, anyway. No one truly cares about accuracy. Some jurisdictions don’t bother confirming positive results for probationers. Other times jurisdictions will work with labs with extremely high false positive rates and not take that in to account.

          Drug tests are convenient for employers that want to weed out fools and addicts (who uses before a 1-time drug test?) – in particular when you’re dealing with unskilled workers. Who cares if you’re rejecting people based on a false positive? You’re out $25, or whatever your volume negotiated rate is.

          Of course, employers don’t care nearly as much if you’re skilled or until they have another reason they want to dismiss you.

          • Calypso_1 | May 1, 2013 at 11:40 am |

            Control & saving a hell of a lot o money on workman’s comp claims.

          • emperorreagan | May 1, 2013 at 1:24 pm |

            The true threat marijuana legalization poses: millions of dollars in workman’s comp claims that couldn’t just be tossed.

          • Calypso_1 | May 1, 2013 at 1:28 pm |

            yep – I’ve been saying that for years.

    • Historically no, but today? Probably so, but only because no one is asking us.

  2. Liam_McGonagle | Apr 30, 2013 at 11:14 am |

    Here’s just a friendly tip for the next time (?!) you get pulled over for a potential DUI in Wisconsin*: Don’t try to play the breathalizer like you was that bug from Star Wars jamming on the bassoon in the Tatooine cantina scene.

    * It’s Wisconsin. Some stereotypes are true.

  3. CosmicAmazing | Apr 30, 2013 at 12:24 pm |

    – “Considering the samples were taken 24 hours after the intake of drugs, we were surprised to find that there was still high detectability for most drugs,” Beck said in a statement. He suggested that a breath test could be given at the scene and then confirmed with a blood test later.”

    So if I smoke a joint on Tuesday (don’t brush my teeth) and get pulled over on Wednesday, I still fail the breathalyzer? How is that fair, how is that justice? But I guess if you show no signs of impairment they wouldn’t breathalyze you… Wishful thinking maybe…

    IMHO I really don’t think marijuana should be lumped in with the rest of these drugs. I’ve never found my driving abilities impaired while “high” on marijuana. In fact, me being an aggressive driver who speeds everywhere. I found that marijuana (cannabis) helps mellow me out and makes me a safer, slower driver. But thats just my own experience, I imagine it affects each person differently.

    • kowalityjesus | Apr 30, 2013 at 12:42 pm |

      I will paraphrase a sentiment of Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert: I’ve never really understood why it’s illegal to search your house for drugs without a warrant, but it isn’t illegal to search your blood for fairly arbitrary reasons.

      • CosmicAmazing | Apr 30, 2013 at 12:57 pm |

        I couldn’t agree more.

      • It’s because property is more important than persons.

        • Calypso_1 | Apr 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

          People are property.

          • kowalityjesus | Apr 30, 2013 at 9:02 pm |

            Human life: the cheapest commodity.

          • Calypso_1 | Apr 30, 2013 at 11:23 pm |

            There are more slaves now than anytime in history & their $ value is so low that they are expendable. Real $ value of human beings in slavery is < 1% of what it was in the early 19th century.

          • kowalityjesus | Apr 30, 2013 at 11:34 pm |

            I’m guessing it has something to do with fossil fuels and the advent of the combine and the ditch-digging machine.

            I’ve heard it said that slavery as it existed in the South in 19th century was an inefficient model and eventually doomed to failure. Wage slavery e.g. Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” or Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” is much more convenient for its overseers, enforced directly by the State.

          • InfvoCuernos | May 1, 2013 at 11:31 pm |

            True words. Are you counting those migrant workers laboring for less than minimum wage in the US? The only thing those poor bastards are missing is actual whips falling across their bent backs, and there is an enormous number of Americans that think they are living high on the hog(or shitting in high cotton, as they used to say down on the plantation) on the taxpayer’s dime.

      • InfvoCuernos | May 1, 2013 at 11:33 pm |

        Law Enforcement gets around that by saying that driving is a “privilege”, and that you agree to blood testing upon request when you sign your driver’s license.

  4. someonesname | Apr 30, 2013 at 1:06 pm |

    The world needs another reason for stoners to be scared shitless when their around cops! THANKS SWEDEN!

  5. Chaos_Dynamics | Apr 30, 2013 at 2:39 pm |

    On an interrelated note:

    On April 17, 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that blood can no longer be drawn from
    non-consenting drunken driving suspects without a search warrant or special circumstances that would exempt police from getting one.

    The MISSOURI v. MCNEELY case.

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-1425_cb8e.pdf

  6. BuzzCoastin | Apr 30, 2013 at 7:27 pm |

    It increases my paranoia
    Like looking into a mirror and seeing a police car
    But I’m not giving in an inch to fear
    which is exactly what this is aiming for

  7. BuzzCoastin | Apr 30, 2013 at 7:27 pm |

    It increases my paranoia
    Like looking into a mirror and seeing a police car
    But I’m not giving in an inch to fear
    which is exactly what this is aiming for

  8. Refuse to use it, and refuse to give a blood test. If they make you, you ca have the charges thrown out.

    • Eric_D_Read | May 1, 2013 at 7:10 am |

      Not really. In most states, the penalties for refusing a breathalyzer are the same as failing one.

      • If you are forced against your will to, you may be able to get the charges thrown out. Also refusing to use them, or give blood is like pleading the 5th.

        • Calypso_1 | May 1, 2013 at 11:42 am |

          Depending on your licensure you may not be able to refuse a blood test.

        • Eric_D_Read | May 1, 2013 at 2:41 pm |

          No it isn’t. Ideologically maybe, but not in courts of law.

          They won’t force you to take the test. It will happen like this.

          Cop: You’re being detained under suspicion of X. Will you submit to a breathalyzer?
          You: No.
          Cop: So you are refusing the test?
          You: Fuck yes.
          Cop: OK. You’re now under arrest for refusal to submit to the test.
          At this point you are already guilty. And as I said before, refusing the test will carry the same or greater penalties than whatever charge you were facing if you had taken and failed the breathalyzer.

          Blood tests are a bit different because they are considered an invasive procedure.

    • Dingbert | May 1, 2013 at 9:36 am |

      Lawyers are well-known for imbibing. I once asked a country lawyer how to get out of a DUI, he said:
      Always carry a bottle of liquor in the car. Once pulled over, pop out of the car in full view of the cop and camera and chug as much as you can. You may get a public intoxication charge, but who’s to say you weren’t totally sober while you were driving?
      The same trick could work for any substance, really.

  9. screw this 1984 orwellian police state we live in.

  10. Noah_Nine | May 19, 2013 at 4:17 am |

    cripes… what next? thought police?

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