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Proposal to allow roadside testing for marijuana use is revived

Cars line up at a DUI checkpoint on Los Feliz Boulevard at San Fernando Road in Glendale. (Roger Wilson / Glendale News Press)
Cars line up at a DUI checkpoint on Los Feliz Boulevard at San Fernando Road in Glendale. (Roger Wilson / Glendale News Press)

A month after Californians legalized recreational marijuana use, Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) introduced a bill Monday that would allow law enforcement to use roadside drug testing devices to check for driving under the influence.

A former sergeant with the California Highway Patrol, Lackey said his proposal takes on new urgency because of the passage of Proposition 64 on Nov. 8.

“The ballot initiative passed this year to legalize marijuana will result in more marijuana consumers on our state’s highways and roads,” Lackey said in a statement. “It is imperative that we invest in a broad spectrum of technologies and research to best identify marijuana-impaired drivers.”

The CHP is separately studying ways to identify drug-impaired drivers. A similar bill last year did not make it to the governor’s desk amid concerns that field testing devices are not dependable.

Lackey’s bill would allow tests using saliva samples taken from drivers suspected of being impaired. He said the test quickly informs officers whether the driver tested positive for several classifications of drugs including marijuana.

The measure is supported by Chief Ken Corney, president of the California Police Chiefs Assn.

“Our federal partners have demonstrated the efficacy of oral fluid testing, and we look forward to utilizing the technology at a state level,” Corney said in a statement.

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