A new pilot project involving a saliva test will be aimed at nabbing drug-impaired drivers.
It involves the federal government, the RCMP and a number of police departments across the country and 2 roadside devices in particular which will be tested to see how they fare in different weather conditions. 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 at this point.
The “oral fluid” screening systems test saliva for the presence of various 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.
Officials say the testing results will be to help establish possible future operating procedures but will still need to be established before a government procurement process before any device can be officially launched.
The pilot project will also help determine how police services can counter drug-impaired driving.
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 and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has welcomed the pilot project.
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