Vermont Commissioner of Public Safety Tom Anderson has told members of the House Transportation Committee that their highest priority this session should be passing legislation to allow law enforcement to use saliva drug tests if a driver is “reasonably suspected” of being impaired, according to a VT Digger report. The Vermont American Civil Liberties Union told the committee that if such legislation was enacted, the organization would sue.
Anderson’s push for the controversial drug test comes five months before the state’s cannabis legalization law takes effect.
“We’re on the cusp of (marijuana) legalization, for all of Vermonters’ sake we should be doing all we can to prevent people from driving impaired.” – Anderson, to the House Transportation Committee, via VT Digger
The saliva tests would not be used to establish a “per se” limit for THC intoxication, rather it would be used to determine whether the driver tests positive for drugs, Anderson said, adding that he wasn’t sure whether the saliva samples could even be used as evidence in court, saying that it would “take a year or two before ultimately it’s decided in court that it’s admissible or not admissible.”
Chloé White, policy director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont, called the test “much more invasive of privacy and bodily integrity than a breathing test” because DNA is also removed in the tests, despite the bill forbidding it.
“As many policymakers, scientific and civil liberties advocates already said repeatedly in the past, there are multiple fundamental problems with roadside saliva testing. Some studies have shown that THC can remain in a subject’s saliva up to eight days after their last exposure to cannabis.” – White to the committee, via VT Digger
According to the report, a similar measure passed the House two years ago but was rejected by the Senate.