‘Tis the season for checkstops.
The Winnipeg Police Service is launching its 2018 Festive Season Checkstop program Saturday, and will be running checkstops throughout the month of December.
Police said Friday they’ll be using newly approved drug screening equipment as a tool to help catch people driving under the influence of cannabis and cocaine.
The Draeger DrugTest 5000 is an oral fluid screening device that allows cops to test suspected impaired drivers.
“The oral fluid testing device is meant to test recent consumption,” Const. Stephane Fontaine said. “So it’s looking for the presence of THC within the oral fluid.”
Police define recent consumption as ingesting cannabis within the past six hours, but note that waiting six hours before driving isn’t a magic number guaranteeing sobriety.
Officers must have suspicions of impairment before administering the test.
The drug tests, in response to the legalization of pot in October, are in addition to their police service’s regular alcohol testing at holiday checkstops.
Winnipeg Police currently have seven of the machines, which cost $5,000, but will be receiving more over the next five years. Each oral swab that captures the suspected impaired driver’s saliva costs $28, with a fresh swab required with each test.
The service is training members of its Traffic Division to use the devices — just in time for the first day of the checkstop program Saturday.
Winnipeg police aren’t the only ones taking a tougher approach to impaired driving.
The provincial government announced Thursday that Manitobans who get behind the wheel drunk will face harsher penalties under new legislation.
Impaired driving, said police, remains the number-one criminal cause of death in Canada, and they encourage Winnipeggers to take a bus, a cab, Operation Red Nose, or arrange a designated driver in order to avoid driving under the influence.
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