Ottawa To Let Police Conduct Roadside Drug Tests

Ottawa To Let Police Conduct Roadside Drug Tests
Posted by CN Staff on October 23, 2003 at 08:25:59 PT
By Kim Lunman
Source: Globe and Mail 
Ottawa -- Ottawa is preparing to change the law as early as next year to allow police officers to test motorists suspected of driving under the influence of drugs. "It's in the works," said Patrick Charette, a Justice Department spokesman. "Ideally, we'd like to be able to proceed with a bill in the New Year."The federal government released a consultation paper yesterday outlining amended legislation that would allow police to take saliva, blood, perspiration and urine samples to determine whether a driver has drugs, including marijuana, in his or her system.
In the document, the Justice Department outlined several options to allow police to administer the tests and gather evidence for possible criminal charges.The proposed changes would create a legal drug limit, allow the collection of such samples and impose penalties for refusal to comply.Under present laws, police officers can ask drivers only whether they have used drugs; they cannot administer a test.Officers rely on symptoms of impairment such as driving behaviour and witness testimony to prosecute motorists."If officers do not have specific drug assessment training, this task can be nearly impossible," the document states.Although it's illegal in Canada to drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol, no quick roadside test exists for drug use. Alcohol consumption can be measured by breath analysis.The options outlined in the document would allow police officers to collect samples after conducting other sobriety tests, including eye examinations and physical examinations to search for injection sites."Based upon a reasonable suspicion of a drug in the body, a peace officer could be authorized to demand a saliva or sweat sample at road site," the document states.Critics yesterday accused the government of pushing ahead with the proposed amendments as it fast-tracks legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana."They're putting the cart before the horse," said Sophie Roux, spokeswoman for the Canadian Professional Police Association. "We're distressed that they're rushing ahead with this legislation."A special parliamentary committee is reviewing a bill that would make possession of small amounts of marijuana punishable by fines rather than a criminal offence.The government is considering reducing the amount of cannabis punishable by fine in the bill from 15 grams to 10 grams, but critics of the legislation argue it will send the wrong message to young Canadians."We think they should go with a national drug strategy first," Ms. Roux said.Mr. Charette said the government has been examining amending the law to improve impaired-driving provisions of the Criminal Code since 1999.Mothers Against Drunk Driving said the consultation paper does not address broader concerns about the impact of relaxing marijuana laws."You can't possibly look at decriminalizing marijuana without looking at all the effects," said Louise Knox, national president of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving."It just doesn't make sense," she said. "You've got to protect the Canadian public before you pass this type of legislation. It makes absolutely no sense to me why they're pushing it."Complete Title: Ottawa Plans To Let Police Conduct Roadside Drug Tests Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)Author: Kim LunmanPublished: Thursday, October 23, 2003 - Page A6 Copyright: 2003 The Globe and Mail CompanyContact: letters globeandmail.caWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Links Proposes Changes To Allow Drug-Testing Laws Needed for Drivers Smoking Pot Power To Police: MADD 
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Comment #4 posted by jose melendez on October 25, 2003 at 10:28:48 PT
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Speaks Out
from: AND SAFETY Dallas -- As a retired police officer and recipient of an award from MADD ( making the most driving-under-the-influence arrests in my department ), I was surprised by the comments of MADD's president Louise Knox ( Ottawa Plans To Let Police Conduct Roadside Drug Tests -- Oct.  23 ). She must be unaware that road officers in the United States spend more time looking for pot in someone's car than they do arresting DUI drivers. If all officers stopped wasting time on the non-public safety threat of simply transporting marijuana, 2,000 drunk-driving deaths could be avoided each year.  Marijuana prohibition reduces public safety, period.  
Attention Law Enforcement: Drug war IS crime!
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Comment #3 posted by Marc Paquette on October 23, 2003 at 14:42:26 PT:
Still a Pandora's Box!
Still A Pandora's Box 
A 2001 Australian study has determined that pot smokers on the wheel were slower and more attentive drivers. Now, if they want to start testing for marijuana, this will open a Pandora's Box for all kinds of and illegal. Soon, it will be illegal to drive if you are under the effect of Valium or Prozac. 
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Comment #2 posted by darwin on October 23, 2003 at 10:46:01 PT
BigDawg hit the nail on the head. To gain approval from the majority, there will have to be some method to punish those who drive while dangerously intoxicated, which at this point is not an easy task. It is truly unfair to convict someone of a DUI on the basis of a positive test result of cannabis. The measure of current intoxification on cannabis is not quantifiable, due to varying tolerance levels and types of usage. A method of testing the ability to focus and drive is the only way this can be accomplished. How about a driving simualtor in the back seat of squad cars?
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Comment #1 posted by BigDawg on October 23, 2003 at 09:51:45 PT
I have no problem with the idea in general
But do they even have a test that can detect CURRENT intoxication by cannabis?
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