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Lapd Deploys Drug Detection Swab Test At Sobriety Checkpoints

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The Los Angeles Police Department has announced plans to ramp up use of a portable tool that checks for drug use, beginning with a New Year’s Eve crackdown on intoxicated drivers. Officials cited increased medical marijuana use as a main justification.

A state grant supplied the LAPD with a swab testing tool that will be employed at DUI (driving under the influence) checkpoints and jails, Los Angeles officials said at a Friday press conference.

The conference was held to highlight use of the tool alongside breathalyzers - which check for blood-alcohol content - at sobriety checkpoints during the New Year’s holiday.

LAPD officers can ask a driver to consent to a voluntary portable oral fluids test of their gum line and cheeks. The tip of the tool is then put into a portable machine for immediate testing rather than requiring a blood test. Such blood tests have previously been necessary to verify an arrest made on the suspicion of drugged driving.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer pointed to the increased use of medical marijuana and the prevalence of dispensaries in the city as reason to step up enforcement of DUI policing.

“There’s a growing recognition that driving under the influence of drugs is something we need to be clamping down on more effectively,” Feuer said at the press conference.

The swabbing test is not completely untested, though it was only used 50 times in Los Angeles ahead of Friday’s announcement. City prosecutors said they have not used results from the test as evidence in any case thus far.

The portable oral fluids test screens for amphetamines, cocaine, benzodiazepine (Xanax), methadone, methamphetamine, narcotic analgesics, and THC – which indicates that marijuana has been used the past several hours.

“Traditionally, our office has focused on drunken driving cases,” Feuer said. “We’re expanding drug collection and aggressively enforcing all impaired-driving laws.”

The city attorney’s office filed 598 DUI cases in the past year that involved drugs. In comparison, the city filed 577 drunken driving cases during the 2012 winter holiday alone.

Thus far in the 2013 holiday season, over 1,500 people have been arrested in Los Angeles County on suspicion of DUI, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

It is yet unknown what other capabilities the testing method has, or how the LAPD will use biometric data gleaned from the swabbing results.

In June, the US Supreme Court ruled to affirm law enforcement’s right to legally take DNA samples from those who are arrested – even if they have not been convicted for a crime or gone to trial.

Los Angeles County has held the distinction of possessing one of the largest DNA-sample backlogs in the US, including an especially high number of unprocessed rape kits.



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So, they didn't ramp up detection efforts because of an increase in driver safety issues related to drug use? 


They decided to ramp up detection efforts because :


"Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer pointed to the increased use of medical marijuana and the prevalence of dispensaries in the city as reason to step up enforcement of DUI policing.

“There’s a growing recognition that driving under the influence of drugs is something we need to be clamping down on more effectively,” Feuer said at the press conference."



This is like the NSA activity in a way.  Because they have the technology to do it, they want and feel they should do it regardless of whether or not it makes the citizens safer.  The police can invade our private lives so they will do it. 


The key is the motivation for the invasion of our privacy.  The City Attorney never mentions that the marijuana users are causing lots of crashes and killing people.  He states only that there is increased use of medical marijuana and more dispensaries in the area.


I thought that the sobriety checkpoints were an invasion of privacy.  They are stopping and 'searching' every car, not every suspect's car, looking for evidence of a crime.  Now they go another step toward eliminating our rights by looking into our bodies for any evidence of a crime.  If we are driving safely, have a good driving record, and no one is complaining that we are acting unsafely, why is our body now being searched for evidence of a crime?


Where and when do we draw the line?  Is the next step, as sci-fi as it sounds, to examine our brain wave patterns for evidence of evil thoughts?







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Dear Robert,

Call me old-fashioned but I believe that elections should be decided by how many votes you can win, not how many voters you can keep away from the polling booth. 

And yet, all across the country, new voter suppression laws are popping up seemingly every day. These laws are stupid and dangerous because they take aim at America's most vulnerable voters - people of color, the poor, the elderly, students and the disabled. It's just wrong. 

I've had enough and I'm fighting back with everything I've got. That's why I've signed on to work with you and the ACLU to help stop voter suppression. I'm doing what I can to help - will you join me? 

You can help right now by making a year-end donation to help the ACLU defend the right to vote and other fundamental freedoms. (Do not forward: This link will open a page with your information already filled in.) 

Cheat. That's what cowards do when they can't win an election fair and square. These voter suppression laws aren't designed to get more people to vote, but are aimed at making sure fewer people vote. 

Someone needs to fight back - to stand up for one of our most treasured fundamental freedoms. And that someone is the ACLU. 

With your support, ACLU legal teams are on-the-ground in all 50 states working to expand voter participation and defend voting rights. And the whole organization is gearing up for an all-out voter protection effort in the 2014 elections. If cynical efforts to undermine voting rights make you as angry as they make me, now is the time to act. 

Don't let voter suppression succeed. Send a year-end donation to the ACLU to help protect our fundamental freedoms. 

I don't always agree with the ACLU. Who does? But, surely we all can agree that, trying to stop people from voting isn't democratic. It's stupid and evil and needs to be challenged at every turn. Let's stand with the ACLU as they lead the fight to protect voting rights

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