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Toews Ready to Throw Book At Imapaired Drivers

By Hempology | November 23, 2006

OTTAWA — The Conservative government is beefing up penalties for drunk drivers who kill or maim and cracking down on motorists who smoke weed before getting behind the wheel.

Critics said the proposed blood or urine tests that will be used to nab drug-impaired drivers are too intrusive and won’t pass constitutional muster, but Justice Minister Vic Toews insisted it’s a “minimal intrusion” that’s justified under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Similar measures have been in place for years in other jurisdictions like the U.S., he said.


“We are very pleased to be bringing this kind of tool forward for the police to use in our jurisdiction,” he said.

But NDP MP Joe Comartin said there is no standardized measure for impairment for marijuana or other drugs — and that will make it difficult for any charge to win a conviction in court.

Liberal Leader Bill Graham agrees with the “thrust” of the bill, but wants to give it careful study to determine if it would withstand a charter challenge.

The Conservative bill outlines a series of measures to determine drug impairment, including a roadside test by police officer followed by an examination at the police station by an officer specially trained to recognize signs of drug use. The final step is a followed by a demand for a blood or urine sample.


The bill also increases the sentence to life in prison for alcohol-impaired driving causing death, and to 10 years for causing bodily harm.

The fine for a first offence of simple impaired driving would increase to $1,000 from $600, and jail terms for second and third offences would increase to 30 and 120 days from the previous 14 and 90.

MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie applauded the measures and said Canada lags far behind other countries in tackling impaired driving.

Drug-impaired drivers are now responsible for about 10% of all fatal road crashes, and he believes new laws will act as a deterrent.

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