Thousands of people are being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs in England and Wales every year. About 60% of them have tested positive on driving under the influence of cocaine and other illegal drugs.

Unfortunately, the devices which are being used for roadside drug tests are not completely conclusive in their findings. Many tests of drivers stopped under suspicion of driving under the influence show false positive readings. This is worrisome, since innocent people can get arrested. In order to deal with this serious issue, a new portable drug testing system has been developed. It is called a “mass spectrometry” and has proven to show much more reliable results at roadside tests.

Currently the testing for drugs on the roads are typically done with a sample of the driver’s saliva being taken with a stick which looks pretty much like a pregnancy test. The testing is then done via an antibody assay. This method relies on the antibody molecules of the test to be able to “recognize” certain types of drugs and bind to them to show the positive result of a certain drug present in the body. The true problem with this system is that in nearly 5% of all cases, the findings of the test show false positive results. This is due to the fact that the antibody molecules in question can bind to other substances which do not fall in the illegal drugs category.

The new “mass spectrometry” testing method detects illegal drugs in the body fluids. It was developed as a collaboration between Advion Limited and the Surrey and Borders NHS Foundation Trust. Mass spectrometry allows for the identification of molecules based on the ration between their mass and electrical charges. Currently it is used to confirm the presence of illegal drugs in the body of the driver after a positive result has shown up during a roadside test. This limits its use in laboratories only for the moment.

The good news is that work on the development of portable mass spectrometers is underway and the research team has already determined that the portable mass spectrometers can detect cocaine in the saliva. Not only is this newly developed testing tool mobile and small enough to be used for roadside tests, but it is also about 10 times cheaper than the laboratory based systems which are currently used for confirming roadside drug abuse results.

The mass spectrometer is easy to use. The official collects a saliva sample from the suspect with the help of an absorbent pad. A few drops are dropped on the special surface of the testing tool and then solution is poured on top of the sample so they wash out into the chromatography column of the device. Since different types of molecules take different amounts of time to pass through this device, this time can be measured to establish whether there are illegal drugs in the saliva. The testing tool also allows for measuring the mass of the molecule’s fragments for additional confirmation of the source of the molecule.

The new testing method has proven to be able to detect even very low concentrations of cocaine in the body, and so far shows no problems with false positive results.

Thousands of people are being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs in England and Wales every year. About 60% of them have tested positive on driving under the influence of cocaine and other illegal drugs.

Unfortunately, the devices which are being used for roadside drug tests are not completely conclusive in their findings. Many tests of drivers stopped under suspicion of driving under the influence show false positive readings. This is worrisome, since innocent people can get arrested. In order to deal with this serious issue, a new portable drug testing system has been developed. It is called a “mass spectrometry” and has proven to show much more reliable results at roadside tests.

Currently the testing for drugs on the roads are typically done with a sample of the driver’s saliva being taken with a stick which looks pretty much like a pregnancy test. The testing is then done via an antibody assay. This method relies on the antibody molecules of the test to be able to “recognize” certain types of drugs and bind to them to show the positive result of a certain drug present in the body. The true problem with this system is that in nearly 5% of all cases, the findings of the test show false positive results. This is due to the fact that the antibody molecules in question can bind to other substances which do not fall in the illegal drugs category.

The new “mass spectrometry” testing method detects illegal drugs in the body fluids. It was developed as a collaboration between Advion Limited and the Surrey and Borders NHS Foundation Trust. Mass spectrometry allows for the identification of molecules based on the ration between their mass and electrical charges. Currently it is used to confirm the presence of illegal drugs in the body of the driver after a positive result has shown up during a roadside test. This limits its use in laboratories only for the moment.

The good news is that work on the development of portable mass spectrometers is underway and the research team has already determined that the portable mass spectrometers can detect cocaine in the saliva. Not only is this newly developed testing tool mobile and small enough to be used for roadside tests, but it is also about 10 times cheaper than the laboratory based systems which are currently used for confirming roadside drug abuse results.

The mass spectrometer is easy to use. The official collects a saliva sample from the suspect with the help of an absorbent pad. A few drops are dropped on the special surface of the testing tool and then solution is poured on top of the sample so they wash out into the chromatography column of the device. Since different types of molecules take different amounts of time to pass through this device, this time can be measured to establish whether there are illegal drugs in the saliva. The testing tool also allows for measuring the mass of the molecule’s fragments for additional confirmation of the source of the molecule.

The new testing method has proven to be able to detect even very low concentrations of cocaine in the body, and so far shows no problems with false positive results.