Draeger DrugTest Fails: false positives, police opt out, and stock tumbles

You may have heard of the Draeger DrugTest 5000, the one and only roadside testing device approved by the federal government so far that will check whether drivers are under the influence of THC and other drugs through their saliva.

But there are many concerns with this device and since its approval on Aug. 27, lawyers and police forces across the country have called out the device’s many problems- like its $6000 price tag, only being able to test for the presence of drugs and not impairment, and having an operating temperature between 4-40 degrees Celsius (rendering it useless for Canada’s winters!).

Even eating, drinking, or smoking within 10 minutes of taking the test is enough to throw off the results and a recent article in The Lawyer’s Daily went as far as calling the Draeger a “roulette wheel” over concerns over its reliability!

[Editor’s Note: CLN goes into all of that and more in a featured article by criminal lawyer Sarah Leamon available here.]

Given the many limitations of the device, some police forces across the country are being cautious and taking a wait-and-see approach.

Draeger DrugTest gives false positives 14% of the time, according to reports

According to CTV News, “the device has also been used in Australia, where police admitted in 2016 that it gave accurate results only about two thirds of the time.”

That means police got inaccurate results 33% of the time- and Australia doesn’t even have the cold weather issues that police in Canada will run into with this device!

A study in Norway that was published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology showed that the Draeger device gave false positives for THC 14% of the time and false negatives 13% of the time, and that is insane- you don’t want innocent people getting wrongfully accused of impaired driving while at the same time, you don’t want drivers getting away with it either.

The study also found that the time between testing positive for THC and confirming impairment via blood test was almost an hour.

Calgary and Ottawa police opting out for now

The Calgary Police Service has indicated that it will continue relying on the Standardized Field Sobriety Test to check for impaired driving, with the Draeger DrugTest 5000 perhaps playing a secondary role in the future, according to the Calgary Herald.

As Const. Dan Kurz told the paper:

“Just because it comes back with a certain number doesn’t mean they’re impaired — cannabis is a different kind of beast.”

He went on to say that the field sobriety test is accurate 90% of the time.

The Ottawa Police are also holding off on the Draeger device for now, instead opting to train more Drug Recognition Experts (DRE’s) and so far, the Ottawa Police have 24 trained officers.

Draeger representatives defend device as stock price tumbles


On Tuesday, reps for Draeger’s Canadian division were in Toronto defending its devices against the negative press, saying the device was simple to use and had an accuracy rate over 95%, but it seems that investors were not convinced as Draeger’s stock price has been tumbling to its lowest point since July.


Featured image courtesy of Bus and Coach Buyer.


Calgary Herald: City police to rely more on old-fashioned cannabis screening than on new devices: officer

CBC: Ottawa police won’t use roadside saliva test for pot checks.

Globe and Mail: Company demonstrates roadside cannabis testing device amid reports of machine’s failings.

The Lawyer’s Daily: Criminal defence lawyers leery of feds’ new cannabis testing device