SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Latest on California’s efforts to detect drugged driving (all times local):
Police in three of California’s largest counties are testing what amounts to a breathalyzer for drug users. Some law enforcement agencies hope to see the detection devices in widespread use soon.
Officers and some lawmakers say California urgently needs to adopt the devices since voters in November approved Proposition 64 legalizing recreational pot. California will become the world’s largest cannabis market when legalization takes full effect next year.
They demonstrated one such device outside the state Capitol on Wednesday.
An officer used a cheek swab to collect saliva from a suspect. He then plugged it into a walkie-talkie size device. It shows within five minutes whether any of six drugs are present in the saliva.
The devices have been tested in Kern, Los Angeles and Sacramento counties.
Police across California are scrambling to keep up after voters approved legalizing recreational pot in November.
They are increasing training to spot drug-impaired drivers. And some agencies are testing portable saliva tests that proponents say could one day be widely used to screen for the recent use of six drugs.
Police were set to demonstrate how they conduct roadside drugged-driving tests near the state Capitol on Wednesday.
Their task is made more difficult because there is no presumed level of intoxication in California, unlike the 0.08 percent blood level for alcohol. Drugs also affect everyone differently.
The California Police Chiefs Association says saliva tests are gaining acceptance after a judge accepted the results last year.
Other experts say it’s best to train law enforcement officers to spot impairment.