The Calgary Police Service says it’s pleased with what came out of Edmonton Tuesday, regarding the province’s new impaired driving legislation.
Bill 29 adds cannabis to the zero-tolerance rules for drivers under the graduated license program.
The bill says those charged with impaired driving would face a 90-day suspension and after that period is over, drivers can get their license back if they join the Ignition Interlock Program for one year.
If they refuse, the license is suspended for another 12 months.
“My general reaction to what I’ve heard so far is that it’s aligning with the federal legislation that is coming out,” Acting Sergeant Andrew Fairman said. “I’m glad to see they’ve added the zero tolerance for cannabis as well as alcohol because along with the novice drivers out there, we certainly don’t want them operating vehicles with any sort of impairing substance in their body.”
“Anything we can do to improve our ability to detect and prosecute drug impaired drivers is certainly going to assist,” he said.
Fairman said the new oral-fluid possibilities added to the legislation is certainly going to help them get dangerous drivers off the road.
His team has been busy testing some of the new oral kits, but they can’t roll them out to front line officers until changes have been made to the Criminal Code.
“I’m happy with what’s coming forward,” he said.
The Calgary Police Traffic Unit has been testing roadside with the standardized field sobriety test since 2008.
“We need to do more training but we’ve also been preparing for several years to get that front-line officer out there to detect the drug impaired driver,’ he said. “It’s going to depend on what the public reaction to legalization of cannabis is going to be.
“If we have a lot of people that get out there and think they can operate a motor vehicle under the influence of cannabis than certainly it’s going to make my job harder but if people get the message in advance that if you’re going to consume cannabis than don’t drive, then it’s going to make my job where it is now.”
Fairman said there needs to be a two-pronged approach with an education campaign and getting officers the tools they need to detect the substance.
Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin has previously said the CPS will be ready to go by the time marijuana is made legal in Canada.