560 CFOS

560 CFOS

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Owen Sound Police Decide Against Roadside Pot Screening Device

Owen Sound | by Claire McCormack  

Police Chief says plans for machines have changed after lawyers say it's not reliable.

After initially planning to order roadside drug impairment testing devices, Owen Sound Police have now decided not to.

Police Chief Bill Sornberger says on advice from Crown Attorneys and other police chiefs, a number of police services will choose instead to use their Drug Recognition Officers, "The government approved a roadside screening device, the unfortunate part is that we don't believe it's reliable enough to be using and so we're not going to be ordering one at this time."

He says they'll use their field sobriety officers, "They're going to be able to make that determination to start the process if someone appears to be under the influence and operating a vehicle. They're going to be the ones that we rely on instead of a machine." He says they'll be looking at how someone is driving, and eventually, blood tests could be demanded and warrants issued.

"It's a more cumbersome process than impaired (drunk) driving but it would be the end of the process that you'd be arrested and you'd be facing charges of impaired driving," says Sornberger.

He says the machine is about the size of a bread box, it has to be kept level, it cannot get warm or get cold, "We'd actually have to buy another vehicle to mount it in, and we're not going to go to that expense."

Sornberger says proving someone was impaired is going to be a process, "It's going to go through the courts, I would imagine for the next three or four years as to exactly what evidence is permissible and what isn't."

In the meantime, all of their frontline officers will be trained in field sobriety before October 17th.

He says if an officer suspects someone is impaired, it won't take a roadside device to get them off the road, "You're negligent as a police officer if you're allowing someone impaired to drive away."

"My message is to people, frankly, just don't do it and drive," says Sornberger.

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