Not designed as roadside labs
Rapid screening tests allow drug consumption to be identified any time, anywhere. Why are these tests criticized, yet remain important basic equipment for police forces? A critical comparison of urine tests and the increasingly commonly used saliva drug tests.
The signs of drug use are less obvious than those of alcohol consumption. Rapid drug screening tests allow public security personnel to carry out efficient drug screening. Regular testing is also increasingly used for safety at work. The focus here is on employees in positions of particular responsibility or in risk-prone jobs.
Most patrol cars in Germany are now equipped with drug tests. However, roadside or in-company drug tests will never replace laboratory testing. Even 99% test reliability does not provide absolute certainty of drug consumption. Therefore, the initial suspicion must always be verified by a blood test.
The possibility of tampering, rare false alarms and shortcomings in relation to handling or hygiene has led to rather negative view of rapid drug screening tests. Many of these vulnerabilities also apply to urine tests. Certain cough syrups, antibiotics, analgesics or even soaps can produce false positives. And drug users often use other people’s urine to tamper with the results.
Attempts to tamper with results are virtually ruled out with saliva tests. Users view them as comfortable and hygienic compared with other types of tests. Drug tests for saliva are more sensitive than urine tests and detect current consumption more reliably. Many experts also believe they are more conclusive. The latest generation of saliva tests, such as DrugWipe® S, provide very high levels of reliability. However, that does not make them roadside laboratories!