Random sobriety tests on the road

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP)- A Pennsylvania man is suing the government over a federal program to monitor impaired drivers. He was pulled over for a random sobriety check.

Imagine being pulled over, and a police officer questions you about your driving habits and swabs your mouth to check for marijuana and alcohol. That’s exactly what happened to the Pennsylvania resident. The goal is to estimate how many impaired drivers are on the road to improve safety.

The government has been testing drivers for impairment in 60 cities since 1973. Randomly selected drivers are tested for alcohol and illegal or prescription drugs to help the government figure out how many people are driving intoxicated. Any driver found to be impaired is not arrested. They’re offered a ride home or a night in a hotel.

But drivers like Chad Messier  say there must be a better way than a surprise drug test. Messier told 22News, “There’s so many police and there’s more and more police every year. So I feel like if someone is impaired there should be plenty of police to catch that.”

The survey yields the government’s best estimate of the prevalence of impaired drivers, but some drivers think it’s an invasion of privacy.

Debbie Sheehan told 22news that the survey is an intrusion. “I think it’s an invasion of privacy. People should go about their business and not have to worry about those things. Some people don’t drink and if they do, they’ll be caught at 2 a.m when the bars close.

Drivers are also offered money for providing saliva and blood samples completing a written survey. Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are a few supporters of the impairment survey.

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