Posts Tagged ‘impaired driving’

Colorado: Drive High, Get a DUI

It was big news when Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana use and recently Colorado announced it had collected over $2M in taxes on the sale of the recreational drug. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper requested that funds from a special weed sales tax be funneled to prevention of youth marijuana, substance abuse treatment, and increased law enforcement. It’s unclear if the following new PSA ads were funded by the new tax, but I think they’re pretty humorous and reminds pot users that while it is legal for recreational use, that doesn’t mean the practice is not regulated.

Watch: Drive High, Get a DUI PSA Video


Bill 26 Passes: Is the 0.05 BAC limit fair? The Breathalyzer Challenge 2

With today’s passing of Bill 26, Albertans are soon to face much tougher penalties in regards to impaired driving, and blowing between the 0.05 BAC warn limit, and the 0.08 BAC criminal DUI limit. Under the new law, if a person is caught driving with a BAC level from 0.05 to 0.08, their license would be suspended for 3 days, and their car could also be seized for the same period. That’s an increase from the previous 24-hour suspension for blowing between the 2 levels.

There has been a lot of debate over how strict this limit is, and how many drinks will actually tip you over the limit. In our first unscientific breathalyzer challenge, we found that most of us couldn’t even register a 0.05 while drinking at a bar, even though all of us did not feel safe to drive. We concluded at that time that 0.08 is way too high of a limit, and applaude the tougher 0.05 rules that were being considered.

There were a lot of criticism over our testing methods,

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U.S. says “drugged driving” growing threat

Motorists under the influence of drugs are a growing threat on U.S. roads, while the number who drink and drive has fallen thanks to education and law enforcement, a top U.S. drug control official said on Tuesday.


Open Liquor In a Vehicle

On a sunny afternoon patrol one weekend I stopped a vehicle that had been exceeding the speed limit. As I approached, I could see two gray haired women in the front and two men of the same vintage in the rear of the car. I could also see a partially consumed cold beer in the hand of each of the men, who made no attempt to hide them from me.

I explained that the liquor was being possessed and consumed illegally and that I would be searching the car under the provisions of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act. I had to convince the two to hand over the two open bottles of beer and searched for and seized the balance under very strong verbal protest.

The registered owner of the vehicle, a local resident, was one of the males and he exclaimed that he could see nothing wrong with enjoying a drink with his visiting guest as his wife drove the car. She had not been drinking, but she received the ticket for illegal transport of the liquor.

Perhaps I have seen too many collisions caused by impaired drivers, but I do believe that there are more appropriate places to enjoy an alcoholic drink than doing so in the passenger compartment of your vehicle while it is being driven on the highway. In my view it is a very short step between passengers drinking and the driver joining in too.

Reference Links


Detecting Marijuana Impairement

I recently overheard a conversation between young people where they discussed the daily use of marihuana – on their way to and from school and in their cars. They said it did not affect their ability to drive and that it went undetected by parents, teachers, employers and the police. Could you please discuss what methods are available, if they are being utilized to identify drivers under the influence of marihuana and how effective it is.

I did not receive Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) training during my traffic enforcement service, but I was able to work alongside others who had been trained and learned enough to be confident of my decisions when I issued 24 hour prohibitions for the use of marihuana.

A driver under the influence of marihuana is more difficult to detect than most other illegal drugs, but it does produce the following symptoms: blood shot eyes, accelerated heart rate (tachycardia), muscle tremors and forgetfulness. Marihuana impairments include: difficulties with judgement, depth perception and the ability to maintain attention. All of these skills are necessary for the safe operation of a motor vehicle.

How effective are Drug Recognition Experts? A driver may be convicted of driving while impaired by a drug based on driving or care and control evidence and the impairment evidence given at trial by the DRE. Recent amendments to the Criminal Code have significantly expanded the use of the DRE by making it a requirement for a suspected impaired driver to submit to an exam rather than voluntarily participate.

Reference Links


24 Hour Prohibitions

Could you please explain a 24-hour suspension of driving privileges? What exactly does this mean?

A 24 hour driving prohibition is used when a police officer believes that a person is the driver of or has care and control of a motor vehicle on a highway or industrial road and their ability is impaired by alcohol or a drug. It allows the temporary removal of a significant hazard on our highways and gives the driver time to sober before getting behind the wheel again. To initiate this prohibition the officer will direct the driver off of the road, serve a notice of prohibition and demand the surrender of that person’s driver’s license.

Typically, the prohibition will be the result of a “warn” or “fail” reading after the officer uses an Approved Screening Device (ASD) to test the driver for alcohol. This would mean that the driver has a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 50 mg% or greater. However, use of an ASD is not necessary for an alcohol related prohibition nor possible to use to test for drugs other than alcohol. Reasonable and probable grounds that the driver is impaired by alcohol or a drug are enough for the officer to make the decision to prohibit.

If reasonable and probable grounds alone are used, the driver can demand a breath test in the case of alcohol use or satisfy the officer that they are not impaired by a drug, typically by a blood test, the officer must terminate the prohibition. Demanding a breath test to show that you are under the 50 mg% level could be risky. If you blow over 80 mg% you are subject to a 90 day Administrative Driving Prohibition in addition, and you supply the officer with grounds to proceed with an impaired driving investigation.

Finally, drivers who are served with a 24 hour prohibition will almost certainly have their vehicle impounded for the 24 hours. The towing and storage fees are the responsibility of the driver or vehicle owner and must be paid to get the vehicle out of impound.

Would the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles consider your driving record as a good one or a bad one? This may determine a more lengthy period of prohibition if you collect multiple 24 hour prohibitions over a two year period. Bad drivers may face action after two prohibitions and any other driver after three.

Reference Links


Ontario Woman Charged For Driving Under Influence Of Drugs

A 27 year old Ontario woman became the first person to be charged under a new federal law that gave police officers power to conduct roadside drug testing. Before the new law was introduced, officers were obligated to inform drivers they were not obligated to provide bodily fluids before requesting a road side drug test.

Toronto police arrested the woman while in the downtown core on an unrelated call. It was there that they witnessed a vehicle crash into a parked car. After attending to the woman, officers concluded she was impaired and charged Littoya Blackman, 27, of Toronto with impared driving by drugs.

I guess this will be the first test to see if the law will have any impact. There was no mention if a road side drug test was actually administered.


BC Judge Rules Smell of Weed Not Enough For Search

Cannabis Traffic Light

A Judge in marijuana-smoker-friendly BC has ruled that the smell of marijuana is not enough for Police to search a vehicle. The Judge made the ruling because the officer who pulled over the driver last year testified that he searched the vehicle after noticing the smell of recently burned marijuana coming from the vehicle. The smell of recently burned marijuana indicated past use which means he would only be able to charge the driver with impaired driving for smoking marijuana if he failed the road side test.

Charges against a man, who was stopped by police in the province last year and found to have four garbage bags full of pot in the back seat, have been thrown out.

The provincial court ruled despite the pungent smell of recently burned marijuana coming from inside the vehicle, the man’s constitutional rights were violated

I wonder what the outcome of that case would have been had the officer been more careful with his choice of words. If he said he smelled marijuana and began his search of the vehicle, would the driver have been found guilty?


Police Get More Power To Stop Stoned Drivers

Just in time for the holiday weekend, federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson praises new legistlation allowing police forces across the country to compel drivers to take roadside tests for drugs. While it has always been an offense to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs, police had no power to make a driver submit a blood, urine or saliva sample.

“We’re zeroing in on in those individuals who take drugs and who are impaired while they’re driving,” he said at an announcement on Toronto’s waterfront.

“It’s a big step forward. It’s something that Mothers Against Drunk Driving, law enforcement agencies, and people who have been victims of impaired driving have been calling for quite some time.”

Prior to the new legistlation, police were obligated to tell drivers that the road side tests were not mandatory and that the test results could be used against them in court. As a result, many drivers would refuse the tests. Starting July 2nd, 2008 refusing to take such a road side test would be a criminal offense much like how refusing to take a breathalyzer is a criminal offense.

While police do say that the new powers would not be used to charge drivers with trace levels of drugs in their system, time will tell to see how everything pans out.

Sgt. Robert Martin, with York Regional Police, said officers won’t be using the new law to unnecessarily penalize drivers if they have traces of drugs in their system. Certain narcotics, such as marijuana, will show up in blood tests long after the high wears off.

Unless a person appears to be impaired, they won’t be pulled over, Martin said.

Have a safe holiday weekend, and if you’re partaking in any extra-curricular activities remember to arrange for a designated driver unless you want to provide a fluid sample at the next check stop or road block you drive through.


Drunk Driving in GTA4 Nothing To Get MADD About

Grand Theft Auto IV was just released on the Sony Playstation 3 as well as Microsoft’s XBOX 360 gaming systems. With every release of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, politicians, lobby groups, and various other groups begin issuing their opinions on the game. Do they not realize they are just giving the game even more free promotional time?

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is disappointed that Rockstar added the drunk driving element into the game as they feel it encourages people to drive after drinking:

Each year nearly 13,500 people die in drunk driving crashes and another half a million are injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes. This is why MADD is extremely disappointed by the decision of the manufacturers of the game Grand Theft Auto IV to include a game module where players have to drive drunk. Drunk driving is not a game and it is not a joke. Drunk driving is a choice, a violent crime and it is also 100 percent preventable. MADD is calling on the Entertainment Software Ratings Board to reclassify Grand Theft Auto IV as an Adults Only game, a step up from the current rating of Mature and for the manufacturer to consider a stop in distribution – if not out of responsibility to society then out of respect for the millions of victims/survivors of drunk driving.

First off, the statement is misleading. Players do not “have to drive drunk” in the game, in fact the first time the character Niko stumbles out of the bar with his girlfriend the game actually pops up a message that encourages you to take a cab instead of driving. By including this element into the game, youths can see firsthand just what it is like to drive drunk. The game does not require you to drive drunk in order to complete it. Obviously, nobody at MADD actually picked up a copy of the game to try before they complained about it because that would just be too easy.

If you want to see what is causing MADD to get all upset, watch the videos here.


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