(West Memphis, AR) An Arkansas law that recently took effect allows law enforcement to use saliva tests as another tool to see if someone is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The bill’s sponsor, Jake Files, is a senator from Sebastian County, Ark.
“Over time, this will just be another tool in the toolbox,” Files said, “It’s a way to prove something there in the field.”
The person initially introducing the idea for the legislation is Lt. Allan Marx. Marx is also a distributor of the test kits. On his website, www.gotchadwi.com, Marx sells OralTox for about $10 each.
Marx told News Channel 3’s sister station, KFSM, “I’ve basically spent my whole adult life fighting the war on drugs.”
News Channel 3 could not reach Marx to ask him about a possible conflict of interest.
Files said, “I don’t disagree that it could be a conflict. And I think he needs to address that. That’s not any of my business. I looked at it from the law enforcement side.”
Files added that law enforcement can choose to buy the products from a variety of sources.
The Arkansas counties in the News Channel 3 viewing area so far are not using the saliva tests. Some sheriff’s departments said they did not know about the law, or had not discussed it.
The law was endorsed by the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association, Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association and the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police.
Tennessee and Mississippi do not include saliva tests in their laws.
David Willis, a Memphis DUI lawyer, opposes the use of saliva tests.
“It’s really junk science,” Willis said about its reliability.
He said that some tests advertise they can pick up any blood alcohol level over 0.02 percent, even though the legal limit is 0.08 percent.
“It gives you no indication whether that person should be placed under arrest,” he said.
He also questions the use of such test results in a courtroom, since the instructions for OralTox tell the user to throw the kit away after 15 minutes, when results have been read.
“So they’re saying, after you’ve used evidence that you intend to rely upon in a jury trial, destroy that evidence,” Willis said.
Arkansas drivers said they liked the idea, though.
“If they have a reason to, as long as it’s helping crack down, I don’t think anything’s wrong with it,” said Marcus Wilson.
Twannwink Field said that she would prefer it over a field sobriety test.
“It’ll stop a whole lot of everything. Drunk drivers, murderers,” she said.