There are a lot of potential failure points when it comes to impaired driving, problem areas where innocent or well-meaning people might be hurt by the system. Poor understanding of mental health conditions, implicit bias, miscommunication and poor comprehension of the law can all lead to convictions or general trouble for people who are otherwise upstanding members of society. Long-time followers of the blog know we have a keen interest in these problems, in the hopes of informing Manitobans about them, and changing the system. One of the biggest failure points we’ve seen recently is the introduction of roadside testing devices; we worry that they’re too prone to false positives to be trusted.

This is especially worrisome in the realm of drug testing. While breathalyzers can give you a relatively accurate measurement of the amount of alcohol in a person’s system, this is because the mechanisms by which alcohol is metabolized are simple and well-understood. Conversely, something like marijuana can stay in your bloodstream for days after you’ve smoked, depending on your metabolism and how much you smoke; this is, in part, because THC, the most well-known active compound in marijuana, is stored in fat cells. We’ve already discussed the problems with THC testing at length, but there’s another drug-related problem that’s causing a lot of worry in Winnipeg and throughout North America: opioids.

The opioid epidemic is reaching frightening heights, and in light of this, it’s not at all surprising that police want to test for opioid related impairment. After all, not only do opioids make driving dangerous, they’re dangerous for opioid users point-blank; the more we can get these people help, and nip the epidemic in the bud, the safer our province will be. One well known problem with opioid testing, however, is that opiates are derived from poppies; as a result, there can be false positives when people have consumed other poppy derivatives. As it turns out, there have, in fact, been such false positives in Canada; people eating poppy seed cake ending up with a false positive for opioids. This is, obviously, quite problematic; imagine stopping at Tim Hortons for a pastry and a coffee, getting pulled over, and having to defend your innocence in court. Given that these tests are seen as accurate (if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be used by officers), it might be very hard to prove your innocence – even though you legitimately did nothing wrong.

When a false positive like this comes up, you need a recognized Winnipeg criminal lawyer to help you set the record straight. In fact, criminal lawyers are constantly working to fix injustices in the justice system. There are problems that could hurt innocent people in attempts to put away criminals; if the system has to punish the innocent to catch wrongdoers, it’s not a very good system.