Toronto police begin testing roadside drug screening devices

WATCH ABOVE: Police consider how to handle drug-impaired driving

Toronto police are rolling out a pilot project to test the use of roadside screening devices for drug-impaired drivers.

The pilot project, which begins on Monday and will continue through to the spring of 2017, will be deployed by Traffic Services officers to gather test data.

“The pilot project will test how well officers are able to use certain roadside drug-testing devices on motorists, under different weather conditions, (for example, cold, rain, snow) and at night,” police said in a media release.

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Police said the roadside tests will be strictly voluntary and only be administered to drivers who are not suspected of being under the influence of drugs.

A participant who is suspected of being under the influence of drugs and tests positive would not face any charges.

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“Any samples gathered during pilot testing will never be used as evidence for the prosecution of either a criminal or administrative offence,” police said.

However, police said officers can lay charges if they suspect someone is drug-impaired driving without taking the test.

READ MORE: Pilot project for new drug-impaired driving test to start soon

The two drug-detecting devices being used is called the Drugwipe, manufactured in Germany and the other is called the Alere, which is made in Britain.

Police said the provincial government needs to approve the tests and complete legislative changes before the devices can be used for enforcement purposes.

“None of these devices has been approved for use in the field to aid in the formation of grounds to lay any type of charges. Further, none of these devices has been validated as police equipment,” police said.

The pilot project is part of a larger Canada-wide initiative to cut down on the prevalence of drug-impaired driving.

The RCMP plans to test so-called oral fluid drug screening devices, which are similar to breathalyzers used to detect the presence of alcohol.

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Officers using the device at the roadside would ask drivers to stick out their tongues as a sample of saliva is taken with an instrument similar to a tongue depressor.

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Currently, police who suspect drug-impaired driving use a standard sobriety test that includes looking at a driver’s eyes and asking the person to walk and turn and stand on one leg.

Suspected drivers can also be examined by a specially trained police officer called a drug recognition expert and be given a blood test.

VIDEO: ‘Drugged Driving Suit’ simulates the physical impact of drug impairment

‘Drugged Driving Suit’ simulates the physical impact of drug impairment
‘Drugged Driving Suit’ simulates the physical impact of drug impairment

-With a file from The Canadian Press