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Testing the Validity of Pupillometer Technology Against Traditional Drug Screening Instruments

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 75 Issue: 3 Dated: December 2011 Pages: 37-44
Giuseppe M. Fazari
Date Published
December 2011
8 pages
This study assessed the validity of a pupillometer drug screening technology in detecting current drug use compared to the conventional drug measurement of urinalysis and oral swab.
In pupillometer (PT) screening, the subject's eye is scanned while following a series of flashing lights. The eye is given a controlled amount of light in order to measure the involuntary reflexes of the eye's reaction. The instrument collects four ocular measurements (saccadic velocity, latency, diameter, and amplitude) and compares the individual's current reaction to his/her baseline reaction (an established negative reading) to test for impairment. Each drug is believed to affect the eye's reaction in a different way, so the instrument is able to identify the specific drug causing the observed effects, including marijuana, opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, depressants, and inhalants. Although urinalysis and saliva testing can typically detect the presence of drugs in a subject's system for up to 3 days and even a week in some instances, PT technology has a narrower time frame for detection (up to 48 hours). The current research found that PT is effective in accurately detecting the presence of drugs only when it is used in tandem with other measurement instruments; therefore, assuming that all probationers are initially screened with PT and that those testing positive (38.8 percent) are subsequently screened by either urinalysis or oral swab in order to validate the PT results, the total cost savings for the drug testing of the sample would have been $753.30 for the former and $429.00 for the latter. Given the large volume of probationers under the researched court, PT is a sound option economically, despite the significant rate of false readings when PT is used alone. A total of 188 probationers (approximately 3.6 percent of the probation population) were included in the study. 3 figures, 15 tables, and 4 references