Manitoba

Winnipeg's impaired checkstop program launches with new concerns around cannabis

Winnipeg's roadside checkstop program begins this weekend with new equipment and a new focus in the wake of cannabis legalization.

New screening device will test for cannabis and cocaine with immediate results

Const. Stephane Fontaine demonstrates the new drug-screening equipment that will help officers detect drivers under the influence of cannabis or cocaine. (Winnipeg Police Service)

Winnipeg's roadside checkstop program begins this weekend with new equipment and a new focus in the wake of cannabis legalization.

The program will be in operation every day throughout December as police crack down on impaired drivers.

"Impaired driving continues to be the No. 1 criminal cause of death in Canada, yet it is 100 per cent preventable," said Const. Stephane Fontaine, co-ordinator for the Winnipeg Police Service's checkstop program.

"The recent legalization of cannabis has brought forward further concerns surrounding drug-impaired driving."

The Drager DrugTest 5000 uses oral fluid to test for seven types of the most commonly abused drugs with immediate results, according to the company's website. (Winnipeg Police Service)

In preparation, the police service has purchased — and is currently training officers to use — a new, mobile drug-screening device.

The Drager DrugTest 5000 uses oral fluid to test for seven types of the most commonly abused drugs, according to the company's website. The police service will use it specifically to test for cannabis and cocaine.

The Drager unit uses a swab from a person's mouth to analyze substances on the spot, offering an alternative to collecting urine or blood samples, the company says.

The police service bought seven of the $5,000 devices and is rolling them out on Saturday. They will be used alongside the standard breathalyzer test for detecting alcohol.

"I think it's safe to say I'm excited to have this additional tool," Fontaine said. "Hopefully it doesn't need to be used as often as it might be."

In addition, police will be using other drug-screening equipment as additional tools to help detect drivers under the influence of cannabis or cocaine.

"Our message is simple: if you're under the influence of alcohol or drugs, don't drive," Fontaine said. "The Winnipeg Police Service would like everyone to have a safe and enjoyable festive season."

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