This week has been National Impaired Driving Awareness Week.
With that in mind, the Saskatchewan RCMP are wanting residents of Saskatchewan to remember that impaired driving isn’t just driving while impaired by alcohol, but also while impaired by drugs as well. This includes cannabis.
“We have zero tolerance for any kind of impaired driving – and that includes impaired by cannabis”, explained Cpl. Brian Ferguson. He is the Saskatchewan RCMP’s drug recognition evaluator training coordinator. “The roadside oral fluid devices, which are used across Saskatchewan, are helping us identify drivers that have recently consumed cannabis and to take more potentially impaired drivers off the road.”
During a traffic stop, the Saskatchewan RCMP can demand a sample of oral fluid. It is then inserted into the roadside device, and in roughly four minutes, can tell if the person behind the wheel has smoked, vaped or ingested cannabis recently. The officer can then demand further tests, or call for a drug recognition evaluator to assess the driver.
The RCMP state that last year they had 289 cases where drivers were suspected of driving while impaired by a drug. Of those, 95 have been charged criminally, and they say that number may increase as toxicology results are obtained.
The penalties for driving while impaired by a drug start with a minimum fine of $1,000 and having a license suspended for a year. If an officer detects a driver has recently used cannabis, whether impaired or not, they can have their license suspended and the vehicle impounded for 72 hours.