Article by David Brown, Lift
Public Safety Canada is expected to soon release the results of a recent pilot project testing the effectiveness of oral fluid drug screening devices for accurately detecting drug impairment.
The pilot program, which took place from December 2016 to March 2017 tested two different roadside drug detection devices, the Alere DDS 2 and the Securetec DrugWipe 5S. These are both “oral fluid collection devices,” with each product advertised as providing a result in five minutes. However, these devices only detect the presence of the drug, not the level of impairment. To determine impairment, the input of a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) is required.
Using “oral fluid screening devices” to test saliva for the presence of certain drugs, including cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine, and opioids, Public Safety Canada says the results will help inform how police services counter drug-impaired driving in Canada. The agency has already said they are preparing for an expected an increase in enforcement against marijuana-impaired drivers after legalization.
The Criminal Code already authorizes a peace officer to demand a standard field sobriety test. If the officer develops reasonable grounds to believe that an impaired driving offence has been committed, they can make a further demand for a drug recognition evaluation by a specially trained Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). New legislation to legalize cannabis includes many allowances for further discretion from Drug Recognition Experts to determine if someone is impaired.
Karine Martel, a spokesperson for Public Safety Canada told Lift in March that results from the pilot project are expected “in the coming weeks,” and that roadside safety is a serious concern in light of increased drug-impaired driving incidents in Canada in the recent years.
“The government is committed to punishing severely those who operate a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana. As such, road safety is a serious public safety concern, particularly because the number of drug-impaired driving incidents has been rising since 2009. Roadside drug testing is one of the tools that can help law enforcement officers assess impaired drivers and get them off the road.