Pubdate: Wed, 25 Mar 2009
Source: Observer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009, OSPREY Media Group Inc.
Author: Neil Bowen
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)
Bookmark: (Marijuana and Driving)


Court: Police Use Drug Recognition Officer

The first use of new law in Sarnia brought a driver suspected of being
impaired by drugs before the courts Tuesday.

The 26-year-old man, who was involved in a collision Monday evening
collision, was arrested after being examined by a newly-trained drug
recognition officer.

"That's a first for the Sarnia Police Service, and perhaps a first for
Lambton County and the area," said Sarnia police Const. Bill Baines.
"There will be more."

The new law came into effective July 2, 2008 but no officers were
trained in drug recognition.

The Sarnia officer, who was trained last fall, can do roadside testing
to determine if a driver is impaired by drugs. The officer can also
demand bodily fluid samples, including blood and urine, to be tested
for drugs.

Police use a roadside breath-testing machine to detect alcohol, but no
such technology is available for drugs.

It has become increasingly common in Lambton for drivers to be charged
with marijuana possession, but there was no way to provide evidence
that marijuana impaired their driving.

A Transport Canada report concluded marijuana is second to alcohol as
the most commonly used psychoactive drugs, and it does impair driving.

In July, Police Chief Phil Nelson said the new law will provide the
evidence needed for drug-impaired convictions.

The outcome of the first charge will be watched with interest, Baines
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