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OPP launches first holiday RIDE programs since pot became legal

Nov 24, 2018 06:28AM ● By Editor

'Tis the season for festive RIDE programs.

And with the legalization of recreational marijuana, the Ontario Provincial Police say they're prepared this holiday season  to deal, not only with drunk drivers, but drivers who are drug-impaired.

So far this year, the force says alcohol or drugs were a factor in the deaths of 39 people on OPP-patrolled roads.

As of mid-October 2018, the OPP had laid more than 6,700 impaired driving charges across the province, including 283 for drug impairment.

The interim deputy OPP commissioner, Rose DiMarco says provincial police have a strong set of tools for taking drug and alcohol-impaired drivers off the roads. She says both forms of impairment are serious criminal offences and carry penalties that can include jail time.

The OPP notes that officers trained to give Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) and Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) have been in place for years and continue to identify drug-impaired drivers.

Police who are certified as Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) undergo a series of practical training sessions — a program developed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police — designed to enhance a police officer's ability to spot the common signs of drug use.

A DRE-trained officer takes a suspected impaired driver through a 12-step process which includes physical tests, the collection of urine or saliva samples, if necessary, and questions to determine the driver's state of mind.

Report impairment

The Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Sylvia Jones, says no one should think that the legalization of recreational cannabis allows for driving under the influence.

"I want to assure the public that police officers across the province have received the training they need to identity drug-impaired drivers and will continue to keep roads and highways safe."

By law, novice drivers, drivers under the age of 22, and commercial vehicle drivers cannot have any alcohol or drugs in their system while driving.

The OPP say if you suspect a person is driving, or about to drive, impaired by alcohol or drugs, you should call 9-1-1 to report them to police.

To read the original article and read related stories, follow this link to the CBC News website.
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