Saliva-testing devices will be the front-line of defense against drug-impaired driving in Canada.
The Canadian government passed Bill C-46 earlier this year, which made a number of additions and amendments to Canada's impaired driving laws. One of these changes was the addition of saliva-testing devices intended to determine whether someone has been driving under the influence of cannabis.
Now the committee responsible for recommending which testing kit should be used by Canadian police forces has finally given their suggestion to Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould. She has since given 30-day notice of a ministerial order to approve the Draeger DrugTest 5000, a drug testing kit designed in Germany that is already used by law enforcement officers several other countries.
The new saliva-testing device will be used alongside the standardized field sobriety tests you would have to perform if police suspected you of drunk driving. The Draeger system will be able to detect whether or not a person has consumed cannabis within the last 6 hours, and a positive result will be enough for police to take a driver in for further testing.
The federal government has stated they will be making C$81 million available over the next 5 years for the provinces and territories to purchase the devices and supply training to their police forces.
Once Wilson-Raybould's ministerial order comes into effect next month "law enforcement across Canada will be able to order the drug screener immediately," says a statement secured by the National Post. "Each province and territory will determine the number of drug screening devices required to meet their own needs."
However, the reliability of these devices is still in question. Saliva tests are susceptible to potential problems, including inability to function at extreme cold temperatures, such as those experienced in the territories. Another complication is the issue of extended detection time. As the device can detect cannabis use within the last 6 hours it is quite possible that people could end up being taken in hours after their high has dissipated.