The Canadian government has approved a second device to test the saliva of drivers for recent cannabis use in an effort to determine whether the driver is impaired, the National Post reports. The approval of the Abbot SoToxa by Justice Minister David Lametti comes nearly a year after the government approved the Drager DrugTest 5000.
According to the government notice announcing the device’s approval, the saliva tests will not determine whether a driver is impaired but “presumptively confirm the presence of the drug.” The SoToxa is only able to detect THC.
“… And, combined with other observations made by the police officer, may provide grounds for the investigation to proceed further, either by making a demand for a drug recognition evaluation or for a blood sample,” the government’s notice states.
The roadside drug-impairment testing law took effect in December 2018 but the devices are not currently widely used in the nation due to skepticism from some police forces and the promise by impaired-driving attorneys to challenge the results of the devices, citing false positives and arguing that they don’t work well in cold weather.
Cst. Stephane Fontaine, the impaired driving countermeasures coordinator for the Winnipeg police, told the Post that the department isn’t using the devices outside, but rather in temperature-controlled environments, such as inside the police cruiser or a mobile unit at a checkpoint.
“The key is not so much that the temperature outside is cold, it’s ensuring that the equipment that you’re using is in the proper operating temperatures. So you’re not going to find the device and the testing strips in the trunk of our cruiser car.” – Fontaine, to the Post
The Winnipeg police have seven devices and are field-testing them before using them to make arrests.
In Canada, the drugged driving law sets a standard of 2 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood for a summary offense and 5 nanograms per milliliter for a more serious offense – but the blood must be drawn within two hours of driving.
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