St. Patrick’s Day is perhaps best known for its raucous parties—and, unfortunately, its spate of deadly drunken driving incidents—so it’s no surprise that the San Diego Police Department chose the day to debut a new tool that can not only detect the green beer in your bloodstream, but a certain other green substance, among a spate of other narcotics.
The Department will be deploying a device called the Dragger 5000 at its St. Paddy’s checkpoints this year, a small box not unlike a Breathalyzer with the ability to find traces of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and prescription narcotics, according to SDPD chief Shelley Zimmerman.
Those who push their (possibly Irish) luck too far and find themselves subjected to scrutiny at the annual checkpoints will not be forced to take the test—although refusing to do so could (and likely would) lead to arrest for the suspicion of driving while intoxicated, according to the department.
The occasion may mark the first time the device—priced at $5,500 and created by Oakland-based company Hound Labs—would be utilized for routine stops around the country.
Elsewhere, its usage has been deployed but seen primarily through the lens of data collection, according to Dragger creator and Hound Labs CEO Mike Lynn.
The drivers involved were pulled over under the suspicion of intoxicated driving and volunteered for the test. Many subsequently admitted to smoking pot before getting behind the wheel, validating the device’s readout in some cases, Lynn told U.S. News.
While more testing on the device must be taken into account to further confirm—and then fine-tune—its accuracy, it seems the world of law enforcement may finally have the silver bullet it needs to kill off the controversy surrounding the burgeoning issue of how to deal with stoned drivers in a country that has seen a steady move toward the legalization of marijuana.