Companies have been furiously trying to develop breathalyzer technology which can enable law enforcement to find drivers under the influence of cannabis. With Canada officially announcing cannabis legislation next year, and more and more American states legalizing as well, the roadside testing devices will become more commonplace. A judge in Ontario is bringing the validity of these roadside tests into question, however.

A driver who failed a roadside test was acquitted of charges by a judge in Brampton. The judge did so after accepting the evidence laid forth by a former government scientist. The drivers defense attorney, Richard Posner, feels that this acquittal will set a precedent for impaired driving charges in the future. “This is, in my view, having done impaired and over-80 cases for the past two decades, obviously of great significance because of the systemic nature of it,” Posner said. .

The case has been appealed by the Crown, and the attorney general made no comment on this case. The driver, Ben Joseph, argued that the Intoxilyzer 8000C used by police was unreliable. This breath testing program is overseen in Ontario by The Centre of Forensic Sciences. Posner says that there is no “uncertainty of measurement” in the devices used, which creates a problem for accuracy. “There is no way to determine the accuracy or reliability unless you know the uncertainty of measurement for that instrument,” notes Posner.

We will follow the developments of new breathalyzer technology being used by law enforcement, and how the various courts will respond.