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Questions arise surrounding new Arkansas saliva-test law

Most people in Pulaski County know that if police stop you on suspicion of drunk driving that they may ask for a breath, blood or urine test. These tests are supposed to tell police officers what your blood-alcohol concentration is. If it is over 0.08, you may be charged with driving while intoxicated. What may be surprising for drivers in Little Rock, however, is that police may now use a saliva test to check for alcohol in the blood.

Although law enforcement and criminal prosecutors are hailing the test as an important new tool in the fight against drunk driving, there are others who are raising questions about the tests. One of the biggest is about the reliability of the test.

Because these saliva tests are potentially to be used in criminal trials, it is vitally important that they are accurate in order to prevent innocent people from being wrongly convicted. Many of the tests, however, will signal when someone has a blood-alcohol concentration over 0.02, but that it is not entirely clear if the person is over the legal limit of 0.08. What good is a test that could get people in trouble for driving with an acceptable limit of alcohol in their systems?

There are also concerns that many of the tests' directions indicate that the results should be thrown away after 15 minutes. How can a defendant question a test's reading if the test is no longer available?

Though the Arkansas law is still relatively new, it could quickly cause problems if people are being found guilty of crimes they never committed.

Source: WREG CBS, "Arkansas Law Now Allows Saliva Tests At DUI Stops," Natasha Chen, July 25, 2013

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