What next for the Dräger DrugTest 5000?

Some big announcements this week regarding the approved drug screening device for Canada will leave many people wondering, what’s next for the Dräger DrugTest 5000 (DDT 5000)? At least two forces in BC, Vancouver and Delta, stated they will not be using the device once new marijuana-impaired driving legislation comes into effect on October 17.

They have joined a number of municipal police forces across Canada who have rejected the federally-approved drug screening device. Other forces, such as Abbotsford PD, haven’t come out in full on support of the device but say they are looking to acquire one in order to assess its operational value.

One rule for some, another rule for others

All it takes are a few police forces to cast doubts on the device in order for its use across the entire country to be brought into question. If you are pulled over and ordered to undergo a DDT 5000 test, you would be perfectly justified to ask why it’s an acceptable basis for an arrest in some jurisdictions but not others.[pullquote]”Lawyers up and down the country will be challenging evidence from the device and asking why a number of police forces in Canada have chosen not to use it.”[/pullquote]

This is a question defence lawyers will be eager to put to Courts as soon as the first cases involving DDT 5000 evidence make their way to trial. Lawyers up and down the country will be challenging evidence from the device and asking why a number of police forces in Canada have chosen not to use it.

Impact on police departments

Vancouver PD’s police chief Adam Palmer was fairly critical of the device during one radio interview he gave last week but there appears to have been some backtracking to his statements. In subsequent news stories, VPD has said they are not going to rush into a decision and they were going to test it first. VPD’s backpedalling could be due to a worry from other municipal forces planning to use the DDT 5000 that VPD’s decision could adversely impact their ability to convict drug-impaired drivers. Who knows?

Palmer also said the VPD was concerned by some of the things that have been brought up in the media. We have been outspoken critics of the DDT 5000 for a while now. We obtained one and showed it to the media so they could see for themselves how it would function on the streets.

It seems some police forces have been paying close attention to the concerns that have been discussed in the media, which is a good thing. The public needs to be aware of what it’s up against. Among those concerns is the device is only recommended by the manufacturer to be used in temperatures of between 4°C and 40°C, which means it will be effectively useless in most parts of Canada for much of the year.

Another issue is false positives. The device is said to test positive for the presence of a drug 12 to 14 per cent of the time. Just imagine being wrongfully arrested on suspicion of drug-impaired driving, that could ruin your life. Even a small margin of error would be cause for concern but more than one in ten? That’s just not acceptable and you’ve got to believe that courts will see it that way too.

What to do if you are charged after giving a Dräger DrugTest 5000 sample

If you are among the first people to be charged after undergoing a Dräger DrugTest 5000 test, we urge you to dispute it but first, seek out a lawyer. Acumen Law has been one of the most vocal critics of the new laws that come into effect next month and the devices that have been approved to support them. Give us a call. We have been paying very close attention to the legislation from its inception so we are fully prepared to challenge one of these charges as soon as one lands on our desk.

You can contact us at 604-685-8889.

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