A growing concern for many police officers is how they can detect if a person is on drugs while they are driving, as suspected drug use requires a blood or urine test to be certain.
But now, they may have an easier method, as a Swedish company just designed a device that can detect 12 different controlled substances through a breathalyzer.
Drugs it is able to detect include methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, morphine and marijuana, among others.
Most states have laws against driving while under the influence of drugs, but because police have no way of testing this on the road, many offenders go unnoticed.
So far, the breathalyzer has been proven to be accurate in 87 percent of cases. It was tested on 47 patients at a drug addiction emergency clinic who took an illegal substance 24 hours beforehand. That means the accuracy of the device is likely even better in cases where the person took drugs within a few hours of being tested.
"Considering the samples were taken 24 hours after the intake of drugs, we were surprised to find that there was still a high detectability for most drugs," Olof Beck, head of the study, said.
To ensure accuracy, Olof said it would be ideal to test via a breathalyzer on the road and then test their blood at the station.
About 18 percent of fatal car crashes involve drugs, while drunken driving accounts for a third of all traffic deaths. Each year, 1.4 million drivers are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
"There is a possibility that exhaled breath will develop into a new matrix for routine drug testing and present an alternative to already used matrices like urine, blood, oral fluid, sweat and hair," the study said. "Since exhaled breath may be as easy to collect as in alcohol breath testing it may present a more accessible matrix than blood at the roadside."