Today, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, announced that Public Safety Canada, in collaboration with the RCMP and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) will begin a pilot project to test how well officers are able to use certain roadside drug testing devices on motorists. None of the results from the testing will be used against volunteers in court as evidence in any criminal or administrative proceeding.
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 a increase in enforcement against marijuana-impaired drivers after legalization.
New data released today by Stats Canada shows that 3,000 drug-impaired driving incidents were reported in 2015 in Canada. This represents 4% of all impaired driving incidents, or double the proportion in 2009, when data on drug-impaired driving first became available. Despite this increase, overall the data shows a decrease in impaired driving since the statistic was first collected in 1986.
The pilot project will be used by select police services across the country, including Toronto Police Service, Vancouver Police Department, Ontario Provincial Police, Service de police de la ville de Gatineau, Halifax Regional Police Service, RCMP North Battleford Detachment, and RCMP Yellowknife Detachment. The agency notes Canadian standards for oral fluid devices still need to be established before a government procurement process for the device can be launched.
“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" said Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, in a press release.
The Criminal Code already currently 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).
Featured image via winnipegfreepress.com