MARINETTE - When a police officer suspects a driver is impaired from drugs, they will typically administer a blood test, send the sample to a lab and get results a few days later.

Now, there's no more guessing and no more waiting when a police officer suspects a driver of being under the influence of illicit drugs.

The Marinette Police Department recently acquired a Drager drug test machine, courtesy of a donation from New Life Church in Marinette.

The Drager machine uses saliva to test for drugs in the person's system. The machine gives the police officer a positive or negative read-out in a matter of minutes, instead of days, and has the added bonus of being a less invasive test.

"There has been a phenomenal response from the community," Sgt. Scott Ries said. "They don't want these people out there driving on the roads, either. They've been really supportive of this."

The $10,000 donation covered the cost of the Drager and a few test kits as well.

"The congregation looked at the issues in our community and decided that they wanted to raise the money for this," Ries said. "They felt the drug issue in the area was something they wanted to help fight."

New Life held a fashion show for the community a few months ago to raise the money for the Drager machine.

Since the police department only has one machine, it is left at the police station, instead of carrying it along in the vehicles with the officers, but it was designed to be easily transported if the officers decided to bring it to the scene of an accident or other event. Ries said they have used 10 Drager test kits since they acquired the machine a month ago.

According to Ries, all of the Marinette police officers are trained to use the device as well as the Marinette County Sheriff's Department.
"Their responses have been really good so far," he added. "They've used it in situations where there was very poor driving."

Ries said he first encountered the Drager drug test at an impaired driving conference he attended.

"There has been a big push to use oral fluid instead of blood to test for drugs," he said. "It's pretty exciting to have this tech at the station here and to no longer have to deal with blood tests."