Canada Ramping Up Drugged Driving Enforcement

By Benjie Cooper

IG: @nuglifenews

YouTube: Lucid’s Vlog

Just as Canada begins preparing for nationwide sales of legal cannabis on October 17, efforts to crack down on drugged driving are ramping up. The Justice Department has authorized law enforcement to use roadside testing devices designed to detect THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in a person’s saliva.

The devices were included as approved detection tools in Bill C-46 which gained Royal Assent in June. The bill made reforms to alcohol and drug-impaired driving policy through the use of roadside breath and saliva testing, and the setting of per se levels for THC levels in the blood.

Per se limits allow police to bring criminal charges based on THC levels rather than actual impairment. Under C-46, officers may require a roadside breath test for alcohol without reasonable suspicion, and drivers who refuse tests are given criminal charges and penalties similar to those incurred with a DUI.

A test that detects THC levels between two and five nanograms will be treated as a lower-level offense and result in a $1,000 fine. If higher amounts of THC are found, the same penalties that come with a drunk driving charge apply and include fines and prison time of up to 120 days depending on whether it’s a first, second, or third offense.

Having received advice from an independent council of travel safety experts and toxicologists, Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould has given notice of a ministerial order for law enforcement to use the Dräger DrugTest 5000, a German-made detection device already authorized for use in other countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, and others.

The device, which also detects cocaine, is to be used in addition to the standard field sobriety tests already being used such as walking a straight line and standing on one foot.

The pilot program for the devices has prompted concern for their accuracy as tests conducted in the middle of the severe Canadian winter produced temperature-related issues. Officials have suggested performing the test inside of their warm car during periods of extreme cold.

But aside from functionality issues related to cold weather, the devices still suffer from the same problem that every other THC detecting device does; measuring actual impairment.

After a 30-day notice period and the signing of the ministerial order, Canadian law enforcement will be able to purchase the Dräger units right away and begin officer training and device implementation.