Current breathalizers are designed to detect alcohol levels. However, scientists are now developing far more high-tech models that could detect a lot more. A new device that was recently developed by Swedish researchers is able to detect as many as 12 different substances. The substances that the device can detect include morphine, marijuana, cocaine, heroine and methamphetamine. These are all drugs that are commonly used on the streets, and therefore it is reasonable to assume they will be present on people’s breath as well.
Most states have laws covering driving under the influence of drugs. However, it is impossible to detect whether or not drugs are present on the roadside. At present, this means people need to be taken into the station for a urine or blood test. Only if this test has taken place can a potential offender be charged. If the new Swedish device becomes readily available, however, the presence of drugs could be detected at the roadside. Indeed, in tests, the presence of drugs was detected up to 24 hours after taking the controlled substance. The device isn’t perfect yet, but it has been able to accurately detect drugs in 87% of cases. A lot of people would say that the accuracy should be higher, but it is just as high as standard urine and blood tests. Should someone get charged, they could be offered a blood or urine test to confirm the breathlizer’s results.
The CDC has established that around 18% of deadly car crashes are related to driving under the influence of drugs other than alcohol. They have also determined that driving under the influence of alcohol is responsible for a third of all traffic deaths. 1.4 million DUIs are cited each year. It is for this reason that breathalizers will need to continue to detect alcohol as well. At the same time, breathalizers that could detect both alcohol and other drugs would be even better. Additionally, it has the potential to reduce other forms of crime as well. For instance, addicts may be less likely to engage in car theft, because they would be at a greater risk of being found out. At the minute, they often believe there is a chance they will get away with it, if they can stall the period between their arrest and doing a blood or urine test. Drugs disappear from blood and urine quite quickly, and unless a DNA test is done, they will be nearly invisible within 24 hours. Hence, people often claim that they did indeed use drugs, but that the effects weren’t noticeable anymore by the time they were arrested.