PE Ledger

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Police on the island of P.E.I. have a different weapon to combat drugged driving

Handheld device screens oral swab for T.H.C.

On Prince Edward Island, police are now utilizing a new technology to combat drug-impaired driving.

SoToxa is a portable drug testing gadget that analyses mouth swabs for amounts of T.H.C., marijuana’s principal psychoactive compound.

“The officer would stop a car and raise our concerns that the person may have some, some drugs in their system, mainly T.H.C.,” Charlottetown Const. Ron Kennedy explained.

“We will take a sample of their oral liquid and place it in the equipment, which would give us a positive or negative evaluation within a few minutes.”

Before the swab can be used to test saliva, it must be cleaned around a person’s mouth for roughly four minutes.

“Within the instrument, there is a fixed threshold, and if it doesn’t meet that threshold, we won’t obtain a reading,” he explained.

The swab is then put into the handheld device’s base.

“Right now, this equipment is going to give us a positive or negative for T.H.C.,” Kennedy said.

The instrument does not provide an exact reading of the amount of T.H.C. in a driver’s blood. If a person tests positive, he or she will be brought to the station and examined by a drug recognition expert (D.R.E.), he said.

“The D.R.E. officer would then make a choice based on the totality of all of his testing… he would decide at that point and time whether he is going to take a blood sample or a urine sample,” Kennedy explained.

The blood or urine would then be sent to a lab to be analyzed for T.H.C. levels, if any are present, according to Kennedy.

Previously, Charlottetown police officers used a standardized field sobriety test, which required people to exit their vehicles and judge the situation like balance.

According to Kennedy, Charlottetown police have already utilized the gadget to take a drunk driver off the road this past weekend.

The technology will be used in roadside checks by the Island RCMP in the near future.

RCMP Sgt. Chris Gunn noted in an email, “Several RCMP members have been trained in the last few weeks, and they are available to trained members on the road.”

The device will be used by the RCMP throughout the forthcoming holiday season, when checkpoints are expected to increase, according to Gunn.

According to Kennedy, the RCMP, as well as the Summerside and Charlottetown police departments, are currently using ten of the devices in the province.

Also Read: Buyers of potatoes were treated to a virtual reality tour of Prince Edward Island

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