Pubdate: Mon, 13 Dec 2004
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2004 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Steve Lambert / Canadian Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Motorists Must Perform Three Tasks For Police

MANITOBA drivers suspected of being high on drugs will be asked to perform 
a specific series of tasks, including standing on one leg while counting 
out loud, under new regulations approved by the NDP government.

"The tests are, by nature, divided attention tests," David Greening, a 
senior Justice Department policy analyst, said in an interview.

"(Police) can determine if a person is impaired by how they perform on the 

The new regulations stem from amendments to the provincial Highway Traffic 
Act approved by the legislature last spring which are intended to crack 
down on motorists who drive under the influence of drugs.

While police can use breathalysers to test for alcohol impairment, they do 
not have machines to test for drug impairment.

So the province has had to develop a standardized motor skills test for 
suspected drug users. The new regulations spell out three specific tasks 
that officers must make motorists perform.

The drivers will first be told to look at an object in the officer's hand 
and follow it as the officer moves it.

Drivers will then be required to walk in a straight line while counting the 
number of steps out loud, turning around, and taking the same number of 
steps in return.

Finally, the drivers will have to raise one foot and count out loud while 
keeping their eyes on the raised foot.

Having a standard test across the province should ensure that drivers are 
treated fairly, said Greening.

"The advantage of the standardized test is that it's scientifically 
approved and has been approved by agencies such as the National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration in the United States and the International 
Association of Chiefs of Police," he said. Those who fail the test can have 
their vehicles impounded and drivers' licence suspended for 24 hours or more.

Quebec and British Columbia have similar laws.

The issue flared up for provincial governments after the federal government 
signalled it is preparing to decriminalize the possession of small amounts 
of marijuana.

The provinces have said the change could lead to an increase in drugged drivers.
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager