WASHINGTON (AP) -- State laws haven't kept up with advances in technology that make it easier for police to determine if a driver is on drugs, an advocacy group says.
"The law is often behind where the science is," said Linda Chezem, senior judge for Harrison Circuit and Juvenile Court in Indiana.
Until recently, drug-testing was limited to highly specialized forensic labs which sometimes took weeks to glean results.
Now, rapid tests of urine samples can produce results within minutes. Technology for testing blood and saliva has improved, making it easier to detect drugs.
Still, people who drive under the influence of illegal drugs are rarely detected, prosecuted or referred to treatment programs, according to a report by The Walsh Group and The American Bar Association, funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
"People are driving with drugs in their system who shouldn't be, and under many laws, cannot be held accountable," said Jerry Landau, county prosecutor in Maricopa County, Ariz.
Before new technologies were developed, he said, urine samples would go to a crime lab that could take several weeks to process them. Often, the toxicology report wasn't ready before the case reached the court, and charges were dropped because the evidence wasn't ready.
With drunk driving, many states have a 0.08 standard, but there hasn't been a similar standard established for illegal drugs. In 42 states, prosecutors have to prove that a person's ability to drive was impaired because drugs were in their system.
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