New Breathalyzer Test Detects Drugs Too

A new breathalyzer test can detect drugs along with alcohol. The device, designed in Sweden, can detect 12 different controlled substances, such as methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, morphine, and marijuana.

While most states have laws against driving under the influence of drugs, they do not currently have a way to test it on the road. Instead, they have relied on a blood or urine sample taken at the police station.

The new breathalyzer test was announced in a study published in the Journal of Breath Research on Thursday. In the study, Olof Beck of Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, was able to detect drugs on the breath of 47 patients at a drug addiction emergency clinic. In a statement, Beck explained:

“Considering the samples were taken 24 hours after the intake of drugs, we were surprised to find that there was still high detectability for most drugs.”

The news is good for law enforcement and likely bad for drug offenders. The new breathalyzer test would likely be a boon for police officers in Washington state and Colorado, where voters moved to legalize marijuana during the last election. Washington put in place laws to make driving under the influence of marijuana the same kind of offense as driving under the influence of alcohol.

In that case, it would be helpful for officers to have a breathalyzer test that can show more than just alcohol. The new breathalyzer test was able to detect drug use 87 percent of the time, which means it is as accurate as blood and urine tests. Beck suggested that a breathalyzer test could be issued at the scene, then confirmed later with a blood of urine test. The study adds:

“There is a possibility that exhaled breath will develop into a new matrix for routine drug testing and present an alterative to already used matrices like urine, blood, oral fluid, sweat, and hair. Since exhaled breath may be easy to collect as in alcohol breath testing it may present a new more accessible matrix than blood at the roadside.”

Do you think cops should have a breathalyzer test that detects drugs along with alcohol?

[Image via ShutterStock]

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