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Lawmakers Bar NHTSA from Conducting Roadside DUI Tests

A DUI testing research program by the federal administration to conduct research into drug and alcohol use by drivers, has been stalled. Congress recently barred the federal administration from conducting the survey.

The $1 trillion spending bill that was passed by the U.S. House recently, specifically prohibits the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from using any of the available funds to spend on its National Roadside Survey. For four decades, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has conducted the survey to focus on the use of drugs and alcohol by motorists behind the wheel. The program has been severely criticized by lawmakers, and the provision has been included into the bill to specifically prohibit the agency from conducting this research.

Initial criticism against the survey came from Texas, and later on, questions were raised in Congress about the legality of the testing. In Texas, that criticism mounted after a TV station aired a report which clearly showed off-duty police officers in Fort Worth randomly pulling motorists over at a checkpoint, and taking samples for alcohol testing. Drivers were specifically asked to provide saliva or cheek swab samples, and were paid between $10 and $50 to participate in the program. The police department in Fort Worth issued an apology, but that did not placate critics around the country.

The survey was conducted over a period of eight years, and was expected to be completed this year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that the survey is voluntary, and that the results of the DUI survey are used to develop safe driving program and promote anti- drunk driving campaigns. Signs at the site specifically state that it is voluntary. According to the federal agency, as many as 25% of the participants simply drive off without taking the test.

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