Police pilot project will test systems to detect drug-impaired drivers

The "oral fluid" screening systems test saliva for the presence of drugs, including cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine and opioids.

Select police departments nationwide will be trying out an 'oral fluid' impaired driving test.

Drivers in some jurisdictions may soon find themselves asked by police to volunteer for a saliva test, part of a pilot project aimed at detecting drug-impaired drivers.

The federal government, the RCMP and a number of police departments across the country will conduct the experiment to see how well certain roadside testing devices work to detect drugs.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says his department and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators will collaborate with police forces on the project, which will look at how two different devices work under varying weather conditions.

The “oral fluid” screening systems test saliva for the presence of drugs, including cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine and opioids.

The announcement comes a day after a federal task force delivered a series of recommendations about legalizing cannabis and raised questions about detecting drivers impaired by marijuana.

Police forces in Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax and Gatineau, Que., will take part in the project, along with the Ontario Provincial Police and RCMP detachments in North Battleford, Sask., and Yellowknife.

Police officers will be trained in the use of two types of screening devices and will use them in operational settings, but only with drivers and passengers who volunteer to anonymously provide a sample.

The results will not be used in any court or administrative proceeding, the department said.

“The testing results will help establish possible future operating procedures,” the department said in its announcement. “In parallel, Canadian standards for oral fluid devices will still need to be established before a government procurement process for the device can be launched.”

The cannabis task force recommended more study to determine the links between traffic crashes and levels of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and a national education strategy about the effects of cannabis consumption.

Goodale said the pilot project will help determine how police services can counter drug-impaired driving.

“Testing these new drug screening devices is an important step in our ongoing effort to enhance the enforcement of drug-impaired driving laws, reduce drug-impaired driving and improve the safety and security of all Canadians,” he said.

Currently, the Criminal Code authorizes police officers to conduct a standard field sobriety test on a suspected impaired driver. If the officer has a reasonable belief that an offence has been committed, a specially trained officer can be called to conduct a drug recognition evaluation.

Some police forces have expressed concern that legalizing marijuana will produce problems on the roads. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police welcomed the pilot project.

“Keeping impaired drivers off the road is a priority for the CACP, ” said association president Mario Harel. “The CACP welcomes the pilot testing of these devices as they are another potential tool for Canadian police to help keep roads safe.”

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Fire crews tackle blaze in Abbotsford home

Blaze reportedly sparked by explosion in farm equipment

Body found believed to be missing Chilliwack senior with dementia

Police says case is now in the hands of the coroner

Man dies after hit-and-run in Abbotsford

77-year-old pedestrian dies in hospital after collision on Marshall Road

Archaeology uncovers buried Sts’ailes history

The second annual UBC field school saw students excavating a village on traditional Sts’ailes land

Abbotsford Pilots open preseason with loss

Pilots fall 4-3 to Mission City Outlaws to open exhibition run

Pickle me this: All the outrageous foods at this year’s PNE

Pickled cotton candy, deep-fried chicken skins, and ramen corndogs are just a start

New study suggests autism overdiagnosed: Canadian expert

Laurent Mottron: ‘Autistic people we test now are less and less different than typical people’

B.C. father tells judge he did not kill his young daughters

Andrew Berry pleaded not guilty to the December 2017 deaths

Trans Mountain gives contractors 30 days to get workers, supplies ready for pipeline

Crown corporation believes the expansion project could be in service by mid-2022

Mammoth sturgeon catch was ‘a fish of a lifetime’ for Chilliwack guide

Sturgeon was so enormous it tied for largest specimen every tagged and released in the Fraser

Fraser River sea bus proposed to hook into TransLink system

Maple Ridge councillor just wants to start discussion

Rosemount cooked diced chicken linked to listeria case in B.C.

The symptoms of listeria include vomiting, nausea, fever, muscle aches

B.C. seniors allowed more choice to stay in assisted living

Province doesn’t need to wait for a complaint to investigate care, Adrian Dix says

Most Read