Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Drug-Impaired Driving Concerns Have Police Testing Roadside Devices

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Drug-Impaired Driving Concerns Have Police Testing Roadside Devices

Article excerpt

Police testing roadside devices to detect drugs

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VANCOUVER - Police across Canada will be testing three saliva-based roadside devices on suspected drug-impaired drivers after a team of scientists studied how they detect the presence of drugs such as marijuana.

Doug Beirness, vice-chairman of the Drugs and Driving Committee within the professional organization of The Canadian Society of Forensic Science, said the Mounties and the Ontario government funded their research, which was completed last year.

"What we were interested in was can you use oral fluid screening at the side of the road to assess recent drug use? The answer to that was yes."

Beirness said two of the drug-detecting devices, the Draeger Drug Test and the Drugwipe, are manufactured in Germany and the other is called the Alere, which is made in Britain.

The next step, before any of the devices can be approved in Canada, is for police officers to test them in the field in various jurisdictions, said Beirness, adding that a representative from the Justice Department attends their committee meetings.

The RCMP confirmed Thursday that its plans involve testing so-called oral fluid drug screening devices, which are similar to breathalyzers used to detect the presence of alcohol.

"Such devices can aid in the identification and apprehension of drug-impaired drivers and are becoming increasingly commercially available and are currently being used in other countries," the force said in a statement.

"The research project will help determine if roadside oral fluid drug screening devices have potential for use in drug-impaired driving enforcement in Canada. Legislative changes will have to take place before such devices can be approved for use in Canada."

The Mounties said surveys and research suggest drug-impaired driving is becoming as prevalent as driving under the influence of alcohol.

Officers using the device at the roadside would ask drivers to stick out their tongues as a sample of saliva is taken with an instrument similar to a tongue depressor. …

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