Drug Testing Right at Your Fingertips

What once required a urine or blood sample may now be accessible with the touch of a finger. New technology may provide law enforcement with the capability of using a person's fingerprint to determine if they are under the influence of illegal substances. Even more amazing is that the fingerprint can reveal exactly what drug is in the person's system.

Intelligent Fingerprinting Limited has developed the technology, which should be ready for release in late 2011, to detect the presence of cocaine, cannabis, methadone and nicotine. A handheld fingerprint reader can detect these drugs using gold nano-particles layered with dyed antibodies that attach to metabolites secreted through fingertip pores when a person is under the influence.

Impact on U.S. Law Enforcement

If proven and adopted in the United States, this technology will make it easier for law enforcement to build cases against people for drug crimes such as driving under the influence of drugs and drug possession/use. No longer will police need to deal with obtaining a search warrant for blood draws to determine if a driver is under the influence of drugs. A non-invasive fingerprint is all that will be needed.

In drug possession and/or use cases, a single fingerprint could undermine a person's claim that he or she never uses drugs despite drugs being found in their car, pocket or purse. The fingerprint will also solidify the identity of the person being tested, eliminating claims of misidentification by the police or mixed up lab results. Probation officers would be able to more quickly and hygienically drug test probationers.

Drug detection fingerprinting will give police officers, probation officers and even employers much quicker and greater access to information about a person's drug use. Access will be much less invasive as it will not require a needle, a urine cup or a breathalyzer. Unfortunately, opportunities for abuse by the police will abound and the risk is that police will fingerprint anyone and everyone walking down the street.