Over the holidays, the Los Angeles Police Department announced plans to sabotage the good times of year-end drug abusers by setting up cheek swab checkpoints in an attempt to rid the city’s streets of stoners, junkies and speed fiends by New Year’s Day.
Now, recent reports indicate the LAPD is plotting to execute this brand of instant incarceration drug testing out in the field, where their primary goal is to bust marijuana users during routine traffic stops.
However, criminal defense attorney and 15-year veteran of the L.A. County Superior Court system Mark A. Gallagher says that regardless if a person smokes pot three days or fifteen minutes before they are pulled over, police have no right to administer a swab drug test unless they are given consent.
He says that although it is highly likely that law enforcement officers will suggest otherwise, nobody is required to submit to a cheek swab test unless they have been arrested. Therefore, it is important for citizens to understand that they should never give authorities consent to do anything.
"Cops can do whatever they want if you consent -- draw your blood, search your car, come to your house," says Gallagher. “Cops are always going to try to use their badge and stature to guide you toward consenting."
California law dictates that police must first obtain a warrant before administering a blood test, and Gallagher says it is no different in the case of the LAPD’s newfound swabbing methods. He says that even the City Attorney’s office has been forthright in their admission that motorists have the right refuse this test.
That is, until the legislature drafts a new law penalizing people that refuse the drug test in the same manner used for those refusing to submit to tests for suspected drinking and driving -- an automatic one-year suspension of their driver’s license -- which, he says, will likely happen.
In the meantime, Gallagher insists there is no such administrative penalty, and motorists have the right to refuse drug tests. "Definitely refuse," Gallagher says. "It makes it a tougher case to prove."
It’s simple, kids -- keep your mouth shut and never give law enforcement consent to search or swab. And while HIGH TIMES does not necessarily advocate for act of stoned driving, we certainly have an admiration for the art of driving high. In the immortal words of Jon Stewart during last night’s edition of The Daily Show, “Riddle me this, Batman…why does Taco Bell have a drive-thru?”
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in High Times, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.