HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Police Welcome Chance To Test For Drugs
Pubdate: Thu, 29 Apr 2004
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 The London Free Press a division of Sun Media Corporation.
Author: Deirdre Healey, Special to The Free Press
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


The Federal Proposal Would Allow Police To Have Drivers Tested For 
Impairment By Drugs.

WOODSTOCK -- Local police are welcoming the federal government's push to 
give police the testing powers to nab drivers high on drugs as politicians 
move to decriminalize small amounts of pot. "It's great news," said Oxford 
community police deputy chief Harry Paterson. "There are a lot of people 
out there that abuse drugs and drive and are every bit as dangerous as 
someone impaired by alcohol."

Justice Minister Irwin Cotler has introduced drug-test legislation as a 
companion bill to Ottawa's efforts to decriminalize possession of less than 
15 grams of pot.

If passed, the legislation would give police the authority to demand 
physical tests such as taking samples of saliva, urine or blood so they can 
detect and deter drivers impaired by drugs.

Paterson said approximately 90 per cent of single-vehicle crashes involve 
an impaired driver -- whether it is alcohol, drugs or both.

"Your response time is affected when you are impaired. There could be a 
corner that you have driven around 1,000 times, but when you are impaired 
you may drive an inch off the road, lose control and hit a tree."

Drug-impaired driving is already an offence that carries a maximum penalty 
of life imprisonment when it causes death to another person. However, there 
is currently no equivalent test to a breathalyzer to measure drug impairment.

Refusal to allow samples to be taken would be a criminal offence under the 
proposed legislation.

Breathalyzers, the only tool presently available to police, often don't 
tell the story of what's in a driver's blood system, said Paterson.

"People can be high on a combination of alcohol and drugs and it won't 
register. It doesn't mean they aren't impaired. An officer can still pull 
them off the road if they think they are impaired, but it's harder to make 
it hold up in court without evidence."

MP John Finlay (Oxford--LIB) said the proposed legislation will go a long 
way towards helping officers convict drug-impaired drivers.

"It frustrates me to see someone get apprehended only to be let go a 
because of a lack of evidence," said Finlay. "This is trying to combat that."
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