In South Carolina, law enforcement has three options if they suspect a driver is under the influence of drugs. If the driver gives his or her consent, officers can do a breath, blood, or urine test to determine if there are any banned substances in the driver’s system (the driver risks an automatic suspension of their license if they refuse).
Now, one state legislator wants to create a fourth option: saliva tests.
State Sen. Larry Martin (R-Pickens) says police currently have to get warrants to take the driver to a nearby hospital for any blood or urine samples. He hopes a saliva test would allow officers to get samples on the spot in a matter of minutes.
“It’s one of those things where the technology has surpassed our law in terms of what it will accommodate,” Martin told South Carolina Radio Network. “It’s something that’s being routinely done in the workplace.”
He said four other states allow law enforcement to test a person’s saliva. Michigan was the first, passing such a law last year.
“If it’s occurring around the country, it’s bound to be happening more frequently here than we care to admit,” Martin said, “So I felt like it was another thing law enforcement could take advantage of.”
Martin pre-filed the legislation for next year’s session, which starts on January 10. If the bill does pass, it would likely require additional funds for law enforcement as the test kits cost about $20 each. Martin said an increase in the number of drivers fined would help pay for that cost.
Under current DUI laws, a first offense for driving under the influence is a $400 fine or up to 30 days in prison. The second offense leads to at least a $2,100 fine or up to a year in prison. A third offense risks a $3,800 fine or three years in jail, while a fourth offense could land a person up to five years in prison.