Keeping Canadians safe on our roads by combatting impaired driving is a top priority for the Government of Canada. The Government is very proud to have delivered on one of its key commitments to Canadians to strengthen laws to punish more severely those who drive while impaired by alcohol and drugs. It also has strengthened law enforcement’s ability to detect drug-impaired drivers by authorizing the use of roadside oral fluid screening equipment. To that end, law enforcement will now have access to an additional tool to help detect drug-impaired driving.
Today, following a 30-day public comment period, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced that the first oral fluid drug screening equipment has been approved for use by law enforcement. The screening equipment will be used to detect the presence of THC, the main impairing component in cannabis, and cocaine in a driver who is suspected of having a drug in their body.
In making her decision, the Attorney General of Canada considered comments received from the public and a recommendation by the Drugs and Driving Committee (DDC) of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science, which evaluated this drug screening equipment against DDC standards and evaluation procedures.
Law enforcement officers use their training to identify impaired drivers every day. They currently have a number of tools they can use to detect impaired driving, including Standard Field Sobriety Testing and Drug Recognition Expert Evaluation. This drug screening equipment, which will now be made available for use, provides an additional tool to law enforcement.
More types of drug screening equipment are expected to become available in the future as the DDC continues to evaluate other oral fluid drug screening equipment for use by law enforcement. If any others meet the evaluation standards of the DDC, they would then be recommended by the DDC for consideration by the Attorney General.
“Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. Keeping our roads safe means ensuring law enforcement has the tools they need to deter and detect drug-impaired driving. I would like to thank the Drugs and Driving Committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science for their continued work in evaluating drug screening equipment. We are giving law enforcement the tools, technology, and the resources they need to protect Canadians on the road.”
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., M.P. Q.C.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“The percentage of Canadian drivers who are fatally injured in vehicle crashes and test positive for drugs already exceeds the percentage who test positive for alcohol. The problem exists right now and we are implementing new tools to deal with it. Police are already trained to detect the signs and symptoms of drug-impaired driving. Drug screening equipment provides another valuable tool to support the enforcement of our laws. The Government of Canada is providing $81 million to provinces and territories to support the purchase of approved screening devices, as well as training and capacity building. Together, we’re determined to get this right and keep our roads safe.”
The Honourable Ralph Goodale, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
“As a former police officer I can attest to the carnage caused by impaired drivers. Pending legalization of cannabis does not give a driver the right to endanger themselves or others by driving impaired. Drug screening equipment will further enhance law enforcement efforts to combat impaired driving. If you are going to use cannabis once it becomes legal, or use cannabis for medical purposes, be smart, be safe and don’t drive.”
The Honourable Bill Blair, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction
- Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada.
- On April 13, 2017, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-46 and it received Royal Assent on June 21, 2018 when the drug-impaired driving parts came into force. The new law is a modern, simplified, and more coherent system of reforms to better deter and detect drug and alcohol-impaired driving. Among other things, the law now authorizes the Attorney General of Canada to approve drug screening equipment by Ministerial Order.
- Oral fluid drug screening equipment is an additional tool available to law enforcement to detect the presence of certain drugs in drivers.
- On July 19, 2018, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General published a notice in Part I of the Canada Gazette of her intention to approve this drug screening equipment for use under the Criminal Code. The Notice was followed by a 30-day public comment period, which ended on August 18, 2018.
- Information provided to Public Safety Canada by drug screening equipment manufacturers in response to a Request for Information earlier this year indicates manufacturers anticipate they will be able to meet demand within 4-6 weeks.
- Police can demand an oral fluid sample if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the driver has drugs in their body. A positive result on drug screening equipment could lead to the further investigative step of demanding a blood sample for laboratory analysis or an evaluation by a Drug Recognition and Evaluation expert (DRE).
- Training for law enforcement on the oral fluid drug screening equipment will be developed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in the coming weeks.
- A positive result on drug screening equipment could lead to the further investigative step of demanding a blood sample for laboratory analysis, but it is not a prerequisite. It can be used in addition to Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) and Drug Recognition Expert Evaluation (DRE).
- Canada Gazette Notice to approve an oral fluid drug screener
- Cannabis impairment
- Impaired driving laws
- What you need to know about cannabis
- Cannabis Act
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SOURCE Department of Justice Canada
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