Pubdate: Fri, 02 Feb 2018
Source: Western Star, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2018 The Western Star
Page: 4


Unsettling incidents involving young people who insist on driving
while drunk have grabbed the spotlight in recent days and months
across Atlantic Canada. It doesn't augur well for potential law
enforcement issues later this year.

In Halifax, a 23-year-old New Brunswick man is facing charges after a
pedestrian was struck and killed in the downtown last weekend. A
63-year-old well-known and much-liked street person was pronounced
dead at the scene. The driver is charged with impaired driving causing

In Charlottetown, a 21-year-old man who left the scene of an accident
he caused while driving drunk was sentenced last week to six months in
jail. The judge commented on the high number of drunk driving cases in
recent months that involve young people.

Last fall, Newfoundland and Labrador passed tougher rules aimed at
cracking down on drinking and driving - with zero tolerance for
drivers under 22. One of the key changes includes a blood-alcohol
level of zero for anyone 21 and younger.

A Sydney judge, who garnered headlines for rejecting joint
recommendations from Crown and defence involving drinking and driving
cases which he termed too lenient - is now serving on the bench in
Truro. The judge is continuing his tough campaign on impaired drivers.

Also last fall, New Brunswick passed new laws that will seize drunk
drivers' cars for up to two months, making the province one of the
country's toughest on impaired driving. Statistics Canada says New
Brunswick is one of only two provinces where the number of impaired
drivers under the age of 20 has actually decreased in the last six

With those worrisome statistics in play, provinces and police wonder
if they will be ready to deal with young drivers under the influence
of marijuana if drug impairment cases spike once pot is legalized this

The federal government launched ads in December to dissuade young
people from driving while high. The campaign is targeting people ages
16 to 24 because research suggests that half of young people in that
category don't consider driving while high as bad as driving drunk.

Young people must be warned that like alcohol, drugs impair your
ability to drive safely and increase the risk of getting into a
collision. In fact, marijuana doubles your chance of a car accident
and is second only to alcohol as the most commonly detected substance
among drivers who die in traffic crashes in Canada.

Almost half of young Canadians aged 16-24 report using cannabis. Among
those who have smoked pot, 28 per cent say they have operated a
vehicle while under the influence. Almost half downplayed the risks of
drugs compared to alcohol.

The challenge for governments and law enforcement officials is to
raise awareness of driving risks while impaired by alcohol, cannabis
or other drugs. New federal Criminal Code provisions on drug-impaired
driving take effect later this year, which are sure to grab their attention.

Always remember to drive sober - and that means no alcohol and no
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