But driving impaired remains illegal, no matter the substance. On Wednesday, police planned a news conference near the Capitol to demonstrate how they currently conduct roadside drugged-driving tests. Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, and the California Police Chiefs Association also planned to demonstrate a portable saliva test that proponents said could one day be widely used to screen for the recent use of marijuana and five other drugs. Lackey, a former California Highway Patrol member, carried a bill two years ago that would have allowed police to swab a suspect’s mouth and use an “oral fluid” device to test for drugs in much the same way officers currently use breathalyzers to test drivers’ blood-alcohol level. The bill died in its first committee. The devices are being tested in Kern, Los Angeles and Sacramento counties along with states such as Colorado, which also legalized recreational marijuana. Michigan and Vermont recently authorized use of the tests, according to Lackey’s office. More California police departments are using the saliva tests after a Kern County judge last year accepted the results as evidence in a drugged driving case, said Lauren Michaels, the police chiefs association’s marijuana and drunken driving policy expert. “It’s an additional tool to be used, but at the end of the day in an arrest you’d get a blood sample to tell the actual levels of each substance,” she said.
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