​​Roadside testing project will give traffic safety experts new data on drugged driving 

Feb. 26, 2024 

Learning how to collect oral fluid for testingRamsey County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Broden examines the tube used to collect oral fluid for roadside testing.

Most Minnesotans are familiar with the preliminary breath test (PBT) and how our Minnesota State Patrol troopers and traffic enforcement partners use the roadside test to help keep our roads safe from alcohol-impaired drivers. But what’s the approach for detecting drugged driving? 

Earlier this year, our Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and the Minnesota State Patrol launched a pilot project aimed at answering that question. Drug recognition evaluators (DREs) from law enforcement agencies statewide were trained to use two different oral fluid roadside testing instruments. The devices, the SoToxa Oral Fluid Mobile Analyzer and the Dräger DrugTest 5000, detects the presence of cannabis or other drugs in a driver. We are also training DREs on two devices to compare how the two work.  

OTS is asking drivers to help us with the testing evaluation by voluntarily agreeing to take the test when the DREs ask. During the pilot, we will only gather the data. The test will not be mandatory. Results will not be admissible in any DWI court proceedings or used for any other type of impaired driving penalties. The results cannot be used by the DRE to determine probable cause for a DWI arrest or prejudice the DRE administering the test; officers won’t even be able to see the results. 

The goal of the study: Provide state lawmakers with solid information so they can make sound decisions about what policy they want to bring forward in the law. 

“Let us see what’s going on out on our roads. When we know what’s going on, we can develop the educational strategies and countermeasures to help drivers make better decisions before they get behind the wheel,” OTS Director Mike Hanson said. “By the time a crash takes place, it’s too late.” 

Although there are other tests that look for indications of substance use that stay in the body longer, these particular tests only look for the active ingredient that causes the high. While that substance is there, the person may be impaired. DREs will conduct a further roadside evaluation of the driver to determine if there is drug impairment. 

After the study is finished, OTS will report back to the Minnesota Legislature. If the pilot project is successful, OTS will request that the legislature approve using one or both roadside instruments the same way the preliminary breath test is used for alcohol: As a screening tool that can help support the officer’s observations of impairment and indicates how that impaired driver needs to be processed. 

“These devices are tools aimed to combat the dangerous effects of drug impaired driving,” said Col. Matt Langer, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol. “The goal is to educate drivers, so they make smart decisions behind the wheel. Having a sober driver saves lives." 
 Although these instruments are used the same way as a PBT, there won’t be a legal limit such as the 0.08 blood alcohol concentration for alcohol. Alcohol has been studied extensively, which gives us the data to set that limit. Substances such as cannabis, amphetamines and opioids affect each person differently. 

The most important thing to remember: If you feel different, you drive different, and driving high is a DWI. Never get behind the wheel while impaired. ​​​​​​