Pubdate: Thu, 06 Nov 2008
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2008 The Calgary Sun
Author: Bill Kaufmann
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


Drug-impaired drivers' free ride from detection will hit a brick wall
any day now, say city police.

As soon as a few legal details are dealt with, four drug-recognition
experts (DREs) will hit the streets ing checkstops or being summoned
by police who suspect drivers might be high, said Sgt. Rick Butler.

"You could start seeing them any time," said Butler.

Federal legislation proclaimed last July cleared the way for police to
begin targeting drug-impaired drivers.

Suspects will be subjected to a 12-step evaluation process that could
include submitting to a urine sample, said Butler.

"A breath test would only be used to rule out alcohol," he said,
adding police will be probing for drugs contained in seven

Marijuana and cocaine -- the two leading illicit subtances -- will be
high on the list, said Butler, though abuse of legal pharmaceuticals
also won't be overlooked.

"It'll go from inhalants to depressants to stimulants ... there'll be
legal and illegal drugs involved in this," said Butler.

As it is with suspected drunk drivers, those who refuse to co-operate
with the DREs can be charged, he said.

The 2004 Canadian Addictions Survey (CAS) found the instance of
driving under the influence of cannabis had doubled to 4.8% since 1989.

However, research on the extent of the dangers of driving under the
influence of marijuana and hashish has been mixed, said the CAS.

But such drivers, the vast majority of whom are male, often don't
perceive their ability to drive is affected by cannabis, says the study.

Butler said the new enforcement is important in making our roads safer
and expects the force's commitment to the problem to increase.

"As soon as we start gathering statistics, we're going to see the
number justify training more of these experts," he said.

"It's not good news, but it's life in the big city."

The move is a welcome one, said Mothers Against Drunk Driving Calgary
president Tracy Franklin.

"I think it is a significant problem, though I don't have numbers ...
we haven't collected statistics yet," said Franklin whose daughter,
Daylene, was killed by a drunk driver in 2003.

"When we first formed, the big thing was alcohol, but drugs are coming
up the ranks."
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