ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — For many drivers in St. Clair County, the idea of someone they don’t know taking their blood or testing their saliva on the side of the road is a bit unsettling.
“Frankly, I’d just be against it,” St. Clair County resident Jeff Bresee says.
Off-duty St. Clair County deputies stop traffic in certain locations. Then people hired to conduct the research for the Federal Government ask drivers if they are willing to give a sample of blood or saliva to be tested for alcohol and drugs.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the testing is performed anonymously and results are not handed over to law enforcement.
“After they got over there and started talking to the research folks,” Lt. Fred Turrentine says, “They could leave at any time. They weren’t forced to be there.”
Governor Robert Bentley is concerned about law enforcement officers intimidating drivers into participating.
“If the Sheriff’s officers were off duty but were still in their uniforms, you know people sometimes would be frightened not to stop,” Bentley says. “And so you have to wonder whether it’s done correctly or not.”
Attorney General Luther Strange calls this practice shocking.
“This is very troubling,” Strange says, “And I intend to get to the bottom of it.”
Governor Bentley says his staff is currently investigating how the testing is being done and what the government is doing with the data collected.
“I applaud St. Clair County for doing this,” Margaret Boatright says, “Because maybe if more people know about it, they will be off the streets doing it.”
“You know, I’m all for getting people who are impaired off the road,” he says, “But you know, stopping everybody…that’s a big inconvenience.”