Drug-impaired driving is illegal in Canada. Impaired driving remains a leading criminal cause of death. Driving after using drugs, even prescription drugs, is just as dangerous as drinking and driving.
Police officers are trained to detect drug-impaired driving using roadside Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) and Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) evaluations. They can demand a sample of blood, urine, or oral fluid to test for the presence of impairing substances.
The RCMP is providing enhanced SFST training and increasing the number of DRE officers to better detect drug-impaired drivers.
Oral fluid screening devices
Roadside drug screening equipment helps police officers detect drug-impaired drivers. Approved drug screening equipment indicates the presence of a drug in a driver's system. The devices do not give a quantitative value like alcohol "breathalyzers" do.
The use of SFST training and DREs will continue to be the primary enforcement tools against drug-impaired drivers.
Drug Recognition Experts
To determine if a driver is impaired, a DRE can:
- test the suspected drug-impaired driver with a series of standardized psycho-physical tests
- use clinical indicators to help determine the category of drug used
In conjunction with lab tests, the evaluation can be used as evidence in court.
The RCMP oversees the administration and certification for the DRE program in Canada in accordance with the International Association of Chiefs of Police standards.
National Forensic Laboratory Services
The RCMP's National Forensic Laboratory Services (NFLS) provides specialized services to law enforcement agencies across Canada (except Ontario and Quebec, who manage their own forensic laboratories).
The NFLS screens for a broad range of drugs and poisons, including alcohol and cannabinoids. Scientists analyze bodily fluids, such as blood and urine, to detect, identify and/or quantify any drugs present. They can provide expert witness testimony in court proceedings as needed.
The RCMP anticipates a steady increase in drug impaired service requests over the next five years.
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