Police gives thumbs up for oral fluid drug screening device pilot

Staff
June 14, 2017
By Staff
Results from an oral fluid drug screening device pilot project suggest the devices can be successfully used in Canada, says Public Safety Canada, to identify drivers who test positive for certain drugs, and can provide another tool for law enforcement to detect and deter drug-impaired driving.

While drivers can currently be tested for impairment by Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) and Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST), Public Safety Canada, in collaboration with the RCMP and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA), led the pilot project to test the use of oral fluid drug screening devices as an additional tool for detecting drug-impaired drivers.

Police officers from seven jurisdictions across the country collected over 1,140 samples between December 18, 2016, and March 6, 2017. Feedback from officers involved in the pilot project was largely positive, Public Safety Canada reports. Officers reported that the devices were “easy to use” and successful in various weather, temperature and lighting conditions. The officers also noted their “comfort and confidence” increased the longer they used the devices.

"I would like to thank all of the police and volunteers who participated in the pilot project,” said Ralph Goodale, minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. “Drug impaired driving is a serious problem and giving law enforcement more tools to detect and deter drug-impaired driving will better protect our communities. I am pleased the pilot project demonstrates this technology works in our unique Canadian environment."

Two oral fluid drug screening devices, the Securetec DrugRead and Alere DDS-2 were used in the pilot and approximately 15 per cent of all volunteers who participated in the project registered a positive drug reading.

Oral fluid screening devices can detect the recent presence of several drugs, including THC from cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamines, opioids, benzodiazepines and amphetamines, Public Safety Canada notes.

According to Statistics Canada, almost 3,000 drug-impaired driving incidents were reported in 2015, representing 4 per cent of all impaired driving incidents, double the proportion in 2009, when data on drug-impaired driving first became available.

Click here for the final report on the pilot, which includes key recommendations such as developing a list of standards for device functionality, as well as standard operating procedures at the roadside, and development of core training for police forces.

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