Pubdate: Fri, 01 Feb 2008
Source: Western Star, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2008 The Western Star
Author: Cory Hurley
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)


CORNER BROOK - The city's RNC has a "Saint" on staff whose presence is
expected to lead to a crackdown on impaired driving by drugs.

Const. Brad Saint, drug recognition expert, is trained to detect
whether a person is under the influence of drugs.

His knowledge and expertise were put to use in Corner Brook Thursday
after the RNC received a complaint of a possible impaired driver in
the area of Confederation Drive.

As the result of an investigation, a 23-year-old male was arrested and
charged with impaired driving by drug and breach of a

Const. Saint said the onus is on the officers in the field to
determine, mainly from the actions and reactions of the subject,
whether there is suspected impairment. In the incidents when
impairment by alcohol is ruled out, more than likely through utilizing
a road side screening device or breathalyzer, impairment by drugs is

The subject is then brought to headquarters and handed over to the
drug recognition expert for evaluation. A series of divided attention
and physical tests - including blood pressure, body temperature, and
pulse rate - is conducted. The subject is then requested to provide a
urine sample.

The only time blood testing is done is when the subject is unable to
provide testing.

"It's new here," Const. Saint, the only trained expert on staff here,
told The Western Star Friday. "Before this was brought in and we had
this training in place, it was difficult for the officers on the road.
Quite often they knew something wasn't right with the driver they were
dealing with, but they didn't know how to recognize it.

"Fortunately that has changed and what you are seeing is an increase
in the people being brought in."

Thursday's incident was the third such charge laid in the Corner Brook
area. There has been one conviction and this is the second before the
courts. The 23-year-old was released on an undertaking to reappear in
provincial court on March 4 at 9:30 a.m.

"Even courts here haven't had a whole lot of experience with it, but
they are going to," Const. Saint said. "It's new and is one of those
things that, as the law enforcement community becomes more aware of
how to detect it, you will see the increase in prosecutions."

He said it's key for the public to know that impairment by drugs can
be by both the prescription and non-prescription variety. He said
charges for impairment of prescription medication can be laid the same
as illicit drug use - whether it is abuse of the medication or
impairment through its regular use.

"A lot of people don't realize, they go to a doctor and they are
prescribed a medication for a condition they have, if that affects
their ability to operate a motor vehicle, pharmacies are required to
put that on their medication," he said. "A lot of people are under
their prescribed medication and, because it is prescribed, they think
they can drive the car, be impaired, and it's OK. That's not the case."

Another concern is the misinformation about driving under the
influence of drugs.

"The police have a concern about marijuana use amongst our youth,"
Const. Saint said. "Some of them have the misguided opinion that they
are not impaired when they are using this. That is a big, big mistake.

"Our officers are becoming very educated in the fact that it does
impair and the expertise is available to them now to detect if these
individuals are impaired.

"If they are, the same penalties apply - they lose their licence, they
are fined."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Steve Heath