Analyst: New drugs and driving law a 'strong, positive step'
By Doug Beirness - CBC Corporate
July 22, 2008
Recent amendments to the Criminal Code contained in Bill C-2 give police new powers to deal with drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs. Alan Young, a criminal lawyer and a professor at Toronto's Osgoode Law School, told CBCNews.ca in a July 10 interview what he believes to be the possible complications from the new law.
Impairment evidence first and foremost
An important aspect of this new legislation is that the focus is on impairment, not simply drug use. The officer must first establish reasonable and probable grounds of impairment. Only then can the driver be taken to the station for a DEC examination and only then can the officer demand that the individual provide a sample of bodily fluid for analysis.
The legislation is designed to remove drivers from the roads whose ability to operate a vehicle safely is impaired by drugs and/or alcohol. Evidence of impairment is first and foremost; testing for the presence of drugs is secondary. Fears of being charged as a result of bodily fluid tests revealing drug use days or weeks ago are grossly overstated. That's because the officer must first establish that the driver is impaired and only then can the individual be tested for drugs.
The new legislation and the procedures used to enforce it may not be perfect. There will be challenges — both practical and legal. These challenges, however, should not be used as an excuse for inaction.