‘It’s a se­ri­ous is­sue’

Wind­sor RCMP crack­ing down on im­paired driv­ing this year

Valley Journal Advertiser - - NEWS - BY CA­ROLE MOR­RIS-UN­DER­HILL WWW.HANTSJOURNAL.CA

Hants County mo­torists are be­ing re­minded to think twice be­fore get­ting be­hind the wheel of a ve­hi­cle while im­paired.

And if they don’t heed the warn­ings, there’s a higher prob­a­bil­ity that they’ll get caught this year.

Wind­sor Dis­trict RCMP Staff Sgt. Cory Bushell says po­lice are crack­ing down on im­paired driv­ing, and thanks to part two of Bill C46, which came into ef­fect Dec. 18, 2018, they have much more abil­ity to do so.

“As a re­sult of that, po­lice are now au­tho­rized to con­duct manda­tory al­co­hol screen­ing at road­side,” said Bushell.

In the past, po­lice re­quired rea­son­able sus­pi­cion of im­pair­ment to take a breath sam­ple for anal­y­sis. That re­quire­ment has been lifted.

“The pub­lic can rest as­sured though that there will be mea­sures put in place to en­sure im­par­tial­ity as it re­lates to that,” said Bushell.

“For ex­am­ple, if we’re go­ing to have a check­stop, it will be doc­u­mented prior to the check­stop that we’re go­ing to be de­mand­ing a sam­ple from ev­ery driver or we’re go­ing to de­mand a sam­ple from ev­ery third driver — some­thing like that. We’re not go­ing to be cher­ryp­ick­ing,” he said.

With mar­i­juana be­com­ing le­gal­ized in 2018, Bushell said they will be ramp­ing up ef­forts to get high driv­ers off the roads.

“It’s def­i­nitely more on the radar,” said Bushell, not­ing they’ve al­ways dealt with some driv­ers im­paired by mar­i­juana.

“Mar­i­juana use is not new to Cana­di­ans, hence it’s now le­gal­ized,” he said, adding that it is eas­ier for peo­ple to ac­cess the drug now.

“It is more widely ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple who, per­haps, had not had ac­cess to mar­i­juana in the past. Peo­ple can legally ob­tain it through a re­tailer,” he said.

Bushell said the RCMP needs to be aware that “it may in­crease im­paired driv­ing. Not that it will or it must, but it may.”

Just prior to Christ­mas, on Dec. 19, mem­bers of the Wind­sor RCMP and South­west Nova RCMP Traf­fic Ser­vices, con­ducted a check­point on Went­worth Road. They ad­min­is­tered a road­side drug test on a 19-year-old man and he tested pos­i­tive for hav­ing THC in his sys­tem. He was then taken to the Hants Com­mu­nity Hos­pi­tal to have a blood sam­ple drawn and was re­leased with a no­tice to ap­pear in court in April. Once the tox­i­col­ogy re­port is ready, he may face charges for driv­ing while hav­ing an il­le­gal con­cen­tra­tion of drugs in his blood.

Bushell said the New Mi­nas branch of South­west Nova RCMP Traf­fic Ser­vices will be look­ing at do­ing more check­points in Hants County.

“Their job is to do their best to iden­tify prob­lem ar­eas and then sat­u­rate those ar­eas,” he said.

“These mem­bers were out do­ing sat­u­ra­tion pa­trols in the Wind­sor area (on Dec. 19) and as a re­sult of that, they iden­ti­fied that per­haps this is a good area to come back and visit for some deeper sat­u­ra­tion — pre­dom­i­nantly look­ing at im­paired driv­ing by mar­i­juana.”

Bushell said in 2017, there were 69,000 im­paired driv­ing in­ci­dents re­ported to po­lice across Canada, 3,500 of which were drug-im­paired driv­ing in­ci­dents.

He hopes to see that num­ber de­crease as peo­ple put safety first and re­frain from driv­ing while im­paired by drugs or al­co­hol.

“When you think about things that con­trib­ute to the un­well­ness and the de­par­ture for safety for Cana­di­ans, im­paired driv­ing is No. 1. It’s a se­ri­ous is­sue and a se­ri­ous con­cern for po­lice.”

SARA ERIC­S­SON

David and Joanne DeMille of Yar­mouth pur­chased a head­board Jan. 3. They ar­rived at the store Jan. 4 af­ter driv­ing 2.5 hours, and say they’ve re­ceived no in­for­ma­tion on their or­der.

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