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More court time okay with Vancouver Police trying to stop impaired drivers

FILE: In this photo illustration, smoke from a cannabis oil vaporizer is seen as the driver is behind the wheel of a car in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward

The head of VPD's traffic section says they may use blood tests to identify high drivers

Road-side blood tests have been criticized as being to invasive, and potentially violating civil rights

VPD has also ordered two saliva-testing devices but say they don't have immediate plans to use them

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) — Even if it means spending more time in court, it’s worth it to save lives: that’s what Vancouver Police are saying about new tools for pulling impaired drivers off the road.

Starting December 18th, police will have the power to order breath samples from anyone suspected of driving while impaired, something the department supports.

Inspector Loris Zuccato, who heads up the VPD’s traffic section, says he understands why critics are worried about civil rights being violated, but he believes blood tests are the best way to catch drivers impaired by drugs.

“I know it’s a bit invasive, but I think, as I said, if there’s a drug-impaired driver off the road where someone isn’t killed or injured, I think that’s the real benefit to society.  I think I’d be willing to give up a few things myself –just to ensure that we know people out there were safe on our roadways.”

Changes set to take effect December 18th include giving police the power to demand a breath sample from any driver they suspect is impaired.

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Zuccato says he’s fully expecting some drivers to take legal action.

“There obviously will be some challenges ahead in the courts and otherwise. This will be a helpful tool for us and if anybody is concerned about their rights, I’d be more concerned about the rights of the victims.”

Zuccato adds regulations have evolved since he joined the force in 1984.

“We used to stop impaired drivers by alcohol who literally fell out of their cars. If we can catch anybody who’s driving under the influence of alcohol by having this extra tool in our tool chest, it can’t be a bad thing. We’re going to take an impaired driver off the road and probably save their life and if not the lives of others.”

However, he admits stopping drug-impaired drivers is more difficult.

“We have a two-hour timeline to do everything from stopping a car, to doing all the testing and if necessary, taking a blood sample.”

The VPD has ordered two saliva-testing devices approved by the federal government, but Zuccato says there are no immediate plans to use them because the controversial Dräger units have been known to falsely test positive for drugs.