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Police to test devices that screen drivers for illegal drugs

As every Canadian of voting age is doubtless aware, the federal government is planning to move ahead with its campaign promise to legalize marijuana. Police across the country are trying to prepare for seeing more drivers under the influence of illegal drugs. Here at home, Toronto Police are about to begin testing devices they feel may be useful in the fight against impaired drivers.

The two different devices each have the ability to screen a saliva sample for a variety of drugs. Preliminary tests have shown the devices are able to detect if the test subject has recently used cocaine, opioids, methamphetamine or cannabis. What they cannot do is determine the level of impairment.

During the testing phase, only drivers who do not appear to be impaired will be asked to provide a sample. Providing a sample will be entirely voluntary, and no arrests will be made even if drugs are detected by the testing device. Results from the machines are not approved for forming the basis of laying charges, nor are they valid for use as police equipment. The hope is, if successful in field tests, the devices may eventually be used to screen drivers for illegal drugs in their systems.

While driving under the influence of drugs is illegal, police officers have few tools at their disposal for establishing that a driver is impaired. Without fixed parameters to go by, such as blood alcohol level for alleged drunk drivers, convicting a driver alleged to have used illegal drugs can be difficult. Men and women charged with impaired driving in Toronto should contact a criminal defence lawyer who thoroughly understands impaired driving laws before heading to court.

Source: CBC News - Toronto, "Toronto police to test roadside drug-screening devices in new pilot project", Dec. 19, 2016

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