Law Enforcement Support

Mission Moment – July 2022

Brian Swift

A drugged driver killed my parents. Oral fluid roadside testing will save lives and save more families from that pain.

By Brian Swift

In 2013, a logging truck barreled through a red light and slammed into my parents’ car, killing my father instantly. My sister and I waited in anguish as my mother struggled to stay alive; she died three days later. This kind of selfish act is the worst kind of violence because somebody else chooses your fate for you. If losing my parents wasn’t enough, most victims like me battle with the prosecutor’s office just to get a trial. In our case, the driver would eventually be convicted and sentenced to a mere five years for his crimes. The suffering inflicted on my family can never be undone – cutting short my parents’ lives and others like them has to STOP!

Thomas and Barbara Swift

The driver that killed my parents had THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in his system. Tragically, the number of people hitting the road high on drugs — from marijuana and cocaine to heroin and prescription medicine — is increasing. We have the technology to reduce impaired driving and give law enforcement the tools they need to get these people off our roads.

Following the death of my parents, my sister Patti and I advocated for change in Michigan and the legislators listened. More importantly, they acted. Public Act 242 and 243 of 2016, otherwise known as the Barbara J. and Thomas J. Swift Law, initiated an oral fluid drug testing pilot in five Michigan counties in November of 2018. In February of 2019, officials released the results of the five-county pilot to the legislature as required by the law. They were remarkable. Eighty-eight of the 92 results collected at the roadside were later confirmed by an independent laboratory or blood test. Based on the success of the initial program, it was expanded into a statewide effort in October 2019.

Under the pilot program, a DRE may require a person to submit to a preliminary oral fluid analysis to detect the presence of a controlled substance in the driver’s body if the DRE suspects the driver is impaired by drugs. Refusal to submit to a preliminary oral fluid analysis upon a lawful demand of a police officer is a civil infraction. The device that MSP chose for the pilot is the SoToxa Mobile Test System made by Abbott. This handheld device can test for six classes of drugs in oral fluid including THC (cannabis), cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, opiates, and benzodiazepines. SoToxa was chosen for Michigan’s pilot program because it is portable (necessary for roadside use), accurate, easy to use, and produces rapid test results.

Not surprisingly, cannabis was found to be the most prevalent drug found by the roadside testing program which aligns with national fatality data and roadside surveys. While oral fluid testing has been piloted numerous times in multiple states, the enactment of this law was groundbreaking because it was the first time that a state legislature mandated and funded a pilot. It is now considered a model that other states should replicate. The oral fluid swab does not substitute the 12-step drug evaluation that DREs are trained to perform on suspected drugged drivers. Oral fluid screening is a tool that can enhance current practice, not replace it.

More than 50 law enforcement agencies and over 100 DREs from around Michigan are actively participating in the pilot which is set to conclude this fall. The results of the second pilot will be reported by the end of 2020.

Our next step is to work with a coalition of committed stakeholders to make Michigan’s law and oral fluid program permanent in all 83 counties and expand the use of this technology to all law enforcement agencies. It is my hope that every state in the country will recognize the tremendous life-saving potential of roadside oral fluid testing. I am committed to educating and working with policymakers to make this a reality.

Many special interest groups will use fear tactics to condemn these devices just as they did with the breathalyzer. Rest assured, law enforcement is our front line and protects us from drivers who have no regard for anybody but themselves and create carnage on our roads. With your help, we can reduce the number of injuries and fatalities caused by these irresponsible drivers.

Editor’s note – Brian’s Mission Moment is a reprint of his Mission Moment from the April 2020 MADD Law Enforcement Support Newsletter. You can also hear and see more of Brian’s story and tribute to his parents by viewing this YouTube link – https://youtu.be/deeCzpbPsdU

Guest Author – July 2022

Darrin Grondel

The National Alliance to Stop Impaired Driving

By – Darrin Grondel

Vice President, Government Relations and Traffic Safety

Responsibility.org

On March 20, 2013, Thomas and Barbara Swift were tragically killed in upper Michigan State by a log truck driver who ran a red light striking their vehicle in the intersection, killing Thomas upon impact with Barbara succumbing to her injuries three days later.  The causing driver was operating on a suspended license, no CDL, reportedly driving recklessly prior to the collision, and was under the influence of cannabis. Their son, Brian Swift, embarked on a journey of change to address impaired driving laws in his home state.  Having worked in politics for many years, he formed a small coalition of key stakeholders who helped pass Michigan Public Act 242 and 243 in 2016, affectionately known as the Thomas and Barbara Swift Act. These two acts authorized a pilot study for law enforcement officers to use roadside oral fluid screening in five counties and a year later authorized use for all Michigan counties.  The coalition was successful, and members wanted to expand their reach and capacity, hence the idea for the National Alliance to Stop Impaired Driving was born. Brian currently serves as the NASID spokesperson. Read more about Brian’s Story – National Alliance to Stop Impaired Driving (nasid.org)

The National Alliance to Stop Impaired Driving (NASID) is a broad coalition established and led by Responsibility.org to eliminate all forms of impaired driving, especially multiple substance impaired driving, through effective and proven measures such as DUI system reform, DUI detection, enhanced toxicology testing, and improved use of data and technology.  Our members include a broad array of organizations dedicated to preventing impaired driving. Ron Replogle – MADD National Law Enforcement Initiatives Manager, currently serves on the NASID Board.

NASID provides national leadership in identifying and promoting solutions to impaired driving, including expanded chemical testing among impaired drivers, training for criminal justice practitioners, toxicology lab capacity, improvement and programs to increase the likelihood of recovery, and reductions in recidivism. Our work includes state and federal advocacy efforts, public awareness and education, and state implementation of effective programs. Multiple substance items in the most recent transportation authorization bill were advocated by NASID and its many partners.

Data Drives the Narrative

In traffic safety, data drives the narrative.  Tragically fatal crashes in the US climbed to 42,915 in 2021, a 10.5% increase from 2020 and is the highest number of traffic fatalities in 16 years.  Historically, police-reported, alcohol-involved crashes account for 33% of the total. In 2021, this causal factor rose 16% from 2019 to 2020 and increased another 5% from 2020 to 2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Alcohol impaired driving will always be a priority for NASID and Responsibility.org, however, the increases in drugged driving require focus and prioritization at all levels. A few data points to consider in realizing the magnitude of this issue:

  • In 2020, 12.6 million people (ages 16 and older) drove after using illicit drugs. Of that total,11.7 million people were under the influence of marijuana (2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables).
  • This is a slight decrease from 2019 when 13.7 million people (aged 16 and older) admitted to driving after using illicit drugs. Drugged Driving—What You Should Know | Get Smart About Drugs
  • “According to the provisional numbers, there were an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 2021, an increase of nearly 15 percent from the 93,655 deaths estimated in 2020” CDC: Overdose Deaths Up 15 Percent in 2021 – Drugs.com MedNews.
  • 5% of fatally injured drug-positive drivers (with known drug test results) were positive for two or more drugs and 40.7% were found to have alcohol in their system (NHTSA FARS as cited in Hedlund, 2018)
  • In an analysis of 2017 DUI case data, the Colorado Department of Public Safety reported a significant number of multi-substance cases but cautioned that the figures are likely an underrepresentation of the magnitude of the problem due to limited drug testing in cases where alcohol is present. In 2017, 13.6% (2,362) of cases with toxicology results had more than one drug present. In multi-substance cases, 40.6% (958) involved a combination of alcohol and cannabis and 18.9% (447) involved cannabis and an additional drug. A further 10.6% (251) of multi-substance cases involved a combination of alcohol, cannabis, and at least one other drug (Bui & Reed, 2019).

NASID Priorities and Strategic Planning

NASID was officially organized in July of 2021 and during their first conference members and attendees identified the following priorities and recommendations:

  • Prioritization of multiple substance impaired driving
  • Data challenges and gaps
  • Roadside testing with field sobriety tests and other emerging technologies
  • Expanding toxicology testing and lab capacity
  • Educating policy makers and other key stakeholders on the issues of multiple substance impaired driving
  • Focus and support for impaired driving enforcement

As a result, NASID established a National Strategic Framework focusing on the following nine areas: Data Improvement, Training, Law Enforcement, Toxicology, Legislation/Policy, Education, Funding, Oral Fluid, Behavior Framework – National Alliance to Stop Impaired Driving (nasid.org).

Solutions and Training

NASID has identified several solutions or countermeasures to address multiple substance impaired driving Solutions – National Alliance to Stop Impaired Driving (nasid.org)

NASID partnered with the National District Attorney’s Association National Traffic Law Center on several trainings to include:

Resources

State Cannabis Laws Map

Governors Highway Safety Association and Responsibility.org State Grants 2022

  • Connecticut – Green Lab/Alcohol Wet Lab combination
  • Illinois – adding validations for expanding drug testing
  • Louisiana – two grants awarded (1) purchase of toxicology equipment to conduct expanded drug testing, especially multiple substances, (2) creation of a toxicology subject matter expert program to provide testimony and consultation for prosecutors.
  • Maryland – conduct 8 green labs across the state for training for criminal justice professionals, safety managers, and others for impairment detection.
  • Nevada – Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS) statewide training for judges to use for screening and assessment of DUI defendants.

*Keep your eyes out for grant announcements at the start of the new year for the 2023 grant application process.

Oral Fluid Roadside Screening Work Shops or Summits

Oral Fluid screening devices are reliable, fast, non-invasive, and able to detect recent (within 4 hours) of drug use. These devices can be used at the roadside to identify the presence of drugs among impaired drivers Oral-Fluid-Screening.pdf (responsibility.org).  NASID has resources available to host an oral fluid roadside screening workshop or summit in your state or jurisdiction to help show the benefits of this new and emerging technology to help identify potential drugged drivers.

NASID Conference

NASID will host our second national summit focused on multiple substance impaired driving prevention July 27-29, 2022, at the Hilton Washington, DC National Mall NASID Conference 2022 – National Alliance to Stop Impaired Driving. The summit will convene the nation’s foremost experts to examine the challenges and complexities of multiple substance impaired driving. Topics will include the National Road Safety Strategy safe systems approach, advanced technology to prevent impaired driving, public awareness campaigns, standardization of chemical testing protocols, and a policymaker roundtable.

NASID Membership

Get involved with NASID and join with us in this important work of promoting change to save lives! Those interested in joining the Alliance must join Responsibility.org’s Corporate Partner Program as a Corporate Patron or Responsibility Champion and select NASID as their primary initiative. The Alliance is available to join as a corporate entity, non-profit, or individual. To request more information, learn about the Alliance, or connect with the NASID team, please fill out the contact form below. For more information, please view partnership information here. If you would like to speak with a member of our team directly, please contact Manager of Member Relations, Joey Ford, at [email protected] or NASDI Director [email protected].

Editor’s note – Please see the July Mission Moment by Brian Swift for more information on the tragic loss of his parents to an impaired driver.

Officer of the Month – July 2022

Officer Nickolus Van Buren

July 2022 Officer of the Month

Officer Nickolus Van Buren

El Paso, Texas Police Department

MADD proudly recognizes Officer Nickolus Van Buren of the El Paso Police Department as our Officer of the Month for July 2022. Officer Van Buren recently was re-assigned to the El Paso Police Department’s DWI Task Force after working nearly a year on the Special Traffic Investigations Unit.

In 2019, Officer Van Buren arrested 149 impaired drivers in the first 11 months of the year. This was the greatest number of DWI arrests for the department. In 2020, while navigating through the pandemic, Officer Van Buren arrested 119 impaired drivers. This was second highest number of DWI arrests for the department for the year.

Officer Van Buren conducts himself with honor, integrity, professionalism and is a huge asset for the DWI Task force. Officer Van Buren has saved countless lives and has kept many tragic stories from happening. Officer Van Buren received the 2019 MADD West Texas award for most arrests by a city officer.

MADD National is proud to recognize Officer Nickolus Van Buren as the July 2022 Officer of the Month. We thank him for his many years of dedicated service to the citizens of El Paso, the State of Texas. We wish him the best in safety and wellness in the remaining years of his career and service to the citizens of the El Paso.

Thank you to MADD’s Vanessa Luna-Marquez for her nomination of Officer Van Buren for this recognition.

MADD extends our deepest condolences to the agencies and families who have lost officers and loved ones in the line of duty

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