Pubdate: Thu, 29 Sep 2016
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The Windsor Star
Author: Chris Thompson
Page: A3


Ontario will implement stricter drug-impaired driving penalties
beginning on Sunday, but a local lawyer who handles a lot of impaired
driving cases questions what practical impact it will have.

Brian Ducharme said he has handled a few drug-impaired driving cases,
none of which resulted in a conviction. "I've had some but not a lot,
frankly, because it's very different to prove impairment by a drug,"
said Ducharme. "There's no scientific evidence that can prove that.

"What the police do is they force you to provide a urine sample, but
the urine sample doesn't prove impairment by a drug, it can prove that
a drug is in someone's system, but it doesn't prove when the drug
entered the system."

He said he is not aware of anyone locally being convicted of driving
while impaired by drugs.

As of Sunday, drivers impaired by a drug will face a $180 fine and a
three-day licence suspension for the first offence.

So-called drug recognition evaluator officers will be able to assess
whether someone is impaired by drugs.

The second offence brings a seven-day licence suspension and 30-day
suspensions for each subsequent offence.

After more testing at the police station, drivers could face a 90-day
licence suspension and have their vehicle impounded for a week.

Windsor police Const. Andrew Drouillard said Windsor police welcome
the new penalties.

"Impaired by drug or alcohol are just as dangerous to our roadways,"
Drouillard wrote in an email.

"Our officers are highly trained in detecting drivers who are impaired
by drugs or alcohol and we are committed to keeping impaired drivers
off the road. The safety of our roadways is everyone's responsibility
and the message is simple: Don't drive impaired. "

But Ducharme noted there are 10 U.S. states where marijuana has been
legalized and police there have not perfected a test to prove drug

"Now a blood test would be more effective but it's just not practical
for police to demand blood samples at the roadside, for example,"
Ducharme said, noting that police "are not medical

Police will seize blood samples in situations when an accused has been
seriously injured in a crash and hospitalized where drug-impaired
driving is believed to have been a factor.

"They have yet to devise a foolproof system to detect the effect
of the marijuana on the human body sufficient to prove impairment,"
Ducharme said. "It's difficult." He said with Canada moving toward
legalization of marijuana, the increased penalties may be little more
than a public relations effort.

"I know what they're doing, because marijuana is now about to be
decriminalized, the expectation is that more Canadians will operate a
motor vehicle after smoking marijuana," said Ducharme.

"And I think that's what the expectation is."

Andrew Murie, president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, also
welcomed the new penalties.

"Drugs and driving is a dangerous combination," Murie said in a news

"These new sanctions ensure police enforcement agencies have the tools
to remove drug impaired drivers from our roads. MADD Canada is pleased
that Ontario continues to lead the way in the fight against impaired
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