HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Federal Government Approves First Device For Testing Drivers
Pubdate: Mon, 30 Jul 2018
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2018 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Brian Platt


OTTAWA - The federal government's crackdown on drug-impaired driving
has taken a big step forward, as the Justice Department is set to give
its blessing to Canada's first roadside saliva test.

Once in use, police officers will be able to swab a driver's mouth to
test for the presence of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

Roadside saliva-testing devices were authorized by Bill C-46, a
massive overhaul of Canadaa€™s impaired driving laws that passed in

But before police could order any devices, a model had to be approved
by Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould - and she has been waiting
for the advice of an independent committee made up of toxicologists
and traffic safety experts.

That advice has finally come, and Wilson-Raybould has now given 30-day
notice of a ministerial order to approve the Draeger DrugTest 5000,
produced by a company based in Germany. The device is already approved
in other countries, including the United Kingdom and Germany, though a
Justice Department spokesperson noted it may be configured differently
to meet Canadian standards.

The approval of the Draeger device means it was tested in a National
Research Council laboratory and passed an evaluation by the Canadian
Society of Forensic Science. It's possible more devices will be
approved for use later on.

In addition, Public Safety Canada and the RCMP ran a pilot project
last year on oral fluid screening devices and concluded they were "a
useful additional tool for Canadian law enforcement." The Draeger
device was not one of the two used in the pilot project.

Currently, police check for drug-impaired driving at the roadside by
using a standardized field sobriety test, which can involve tests such
as standing on one foot or walking in a straight line.

The saliva-testing device, which is also approved to test for cocaine,
provides police with a powerful new tool to detect recent drug use
(within approximately the last six hours). A failed test gives police
reasonable grounds to bring a driver in for further testing, including
a blood test or an examination by a drug recognition expert.

The science around detecting drug-impaired driving is much less
established than it is for detecting alcohol-impaired driving, and the
reliability of the devices is likely to be challenged in court by
defence lawyers.

One particular concern is how well the devices will operate in the
harsh Canadian winters. The pilot project included using the devices
in the dead of winter in Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.
It concluded they were largely effective, though "there were some
temperature-related issues that arose when the devices were used in
extreme cold temperatures."

Officials have suggested police may be able to conduct the tests
inside their warm cars when temperatures drop far below freezing.

It took longer than expected for a device to be approved for use.
Testifying at a Senate committee last February, government officials
estimated the testing would be finished by March; they later
acknowledged that had proven optimistic.

With the legalization date pushed back to Oct. 17, there is now a
better chance police will be equipped with them in time. But the
ministerial order still needs to wait for a 30-day notice period, and
then the devices need to be ordered and frontline officers need to be
trained on their use.

A Public Safety spokesperson said the federal government is making $81
million available over five years for provinces and territories to buy
screening devices and train more officers to recognize drug
impairment. The federal government also plans to have a standardized
price and procurement process for the devices that provinces and
territories can opt into.

Once the ministerial order is signed, "law enforcement across Canada
will be able to order the drug screener immediately," the statement
said. "Each province and territory will determine the number of drug
screening devices required to meet their own needs."

The roadside screening devices are only one part of the government's
strategy to prevent drug-impaired driving. It has also budgeted $62.5
million over five years on a public education strategy, including
advertising campaigns.

It also brought in a€œper sea€ limits for drug blood levels, a legal
shortcut that means police can lay criminal charges based solely on a
driver's level of THC in the blood, without having to further prove

When it comes to alcohol, C-46 controversially gave police the ability
to demand a roadside breath sample without needing suspicion the
driver has been drinking - a measure critics have blasted as
unconstitutional. However, police will still need grounds to suspect a
driver has consumed drugs before demanding a roadside saliva test.
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