New tests target ‘drugged driving’ in Dane County

New tests target ‘drugged driving’ in Dane County
Alere DDS2 mobile test systems

Drivers on drugs are the new target of law enforcement officials, who say they’re seeing increasing issues on the roads with “drugged” drivers.

Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney announced a grant Friday from the state Department of Transportation that will be used to purchase four Alere DDS2 mobile test systems. 

The units use oral fluids to determine whether someone is on one of six drugs. 

The $16,650 grant will also purchase 300 drug test kits that will be distributed to hospitals around Dane County.

The aim is to collect data on the extent of drugged driving in the area.

“This will help us have stronger legal cases in court and also determine what kind of laws Wisconsin needs to make in the future to ensure that we eradicate drunk and drugged driving,” said Dave Pabst with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Highway Safety.

Sheriff Mahoney says his deputies responded multiple times this week to cases of crashes or driving incidents involving drivers on heroin.

“Dane County is experiencing on average 12 to 15 heroin overdoses a week and a number of these are individuals we find after crashing their vehicles or passed out behind the wheel of their vehicle when called for emergency services,” Mahoney said. 

Forty eight officers from law enforcement agencies around the county will be trained on the units, which will test for drugs including THC and both prescription opiates and heroin.

Mahoney says law enforcement agencies will still use the same standard of probable cause to pull over someone suspected of impaired driving, but they will just use this test to find out within minutes what kind of drug someone was on and use the data to track the magnitude of the drugged driving problem.