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As the federal government moves closer to legalizing marijuana, the scramble continues to try and effectively deal with pot and how it affects drivers. The latest available information indicates a date of July 1, 2018 for legalization, leaving little time to establish testing protocols and legislation of legal limits. While driving under the influence of drugs is already illegal in Ontario, it is still a complex subject.
The MP most closely associated with the move toward legalization, former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, says there has been great progress overall. He admits, however, they are still no further ahead on the matter of impaired driving. Bodily fluid tests have thus far proved to be unreliable in determining impairment levels, though tests are ongoing. Roadside oral-fluid tests are in a trial phase to see if they will function properly in frigid temperatures.
A law in British Columbia allows police officers to suspend the licence of a driver who appears to be unable to drive safely due to drugs or alcohol, even if he or she is not legally impaired. Blair sees this as an example other provinces might follow, and stresses provincial law will be important in the fight against drug-impaired driving. He believes the government will have the right legislation, equipment and law enforcement training in place before marijuana is legalized.
Until the standardization of roadside testing is complete, a charge of driving under the influence of drugs will continue to be problematic for law enforcement. Even after equipment is fully in place, as it is for alcohol impairment, the administration of the test must be subject to scrutiny. A person charged for any kind of impaired driving may want to talk to a criminal defence lawyer. A lawyer’s knowledge of Ontario criminal law and thorough attention to a case may help to minimize the severity of the outcome.
Source: National Post, “Liberals looking to implement roadside tests for pot smokers, says Trudeau’s marijuana czar“, John Ivison, March 29, 2017