Maritime holiday driver checks result in arrests

RCMP officers in the Maritimes conducted more than 200 checkpoints over the holiday season, which resulted in nearly 50 driver arrests due to charges with impaired driving.

“Impaired driving is a serious threat to road safety and Nova Scotia RCMP is committed to removing impaired drivers from roadways,”

CSt. Chad Morrison of Nova Scotia RCMP Traffic Services

CTV News Atlantic published the following incidence of impaired driving recorded in the Maritime provinces over the holidays :

• In P.E.I., a total of nine charges of impaired driving, all of which were alcohol-related, and four drivers had their licence suspended for alcohol impairment, and two for drugs.

• In Nova Scotia, a total of 16 drivers were charged with driving under the influence of alcohol from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day, and eight were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs. In seven of those cases, police required blood samples from the suspects. Nine drivers were also suspended because of alcohol use.

• In New Brunswick, a total of 16 drivers were charged with impaired driving since mid-December and another 17 drivers were suspended.

RCMP in Nova Scotia administered the new Dräger DrugTest 5000 Approved Drug Screening Equipment (which are administered roadside to test oral fluid for THC and cocaine). The Dräger DrugTest 5000 was designed for fast testing of oral fluid samples for drugs of abuse, such as amphetamines, designer amphetamines, opiates, cocaine and metabolites, benzodiazepines, cannabinoids, and methadone. In order to administer the test, the driver needs to provide a sample of saliva.

According to CTV News Atlantic, there are currently five Dräger units being used by RCMP in Nova Scotia. RCMP in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are not using them as part of their roadside screening protocol, but have ordered three testing units.

According to new alcohol-impaired driving legislation effective December 18th, police officers can demand a roadside screening test if they “develop a suspicion” that a driver is impaired. Under C-46, police do not need to have reasonable grounds to suspect impairment, and will be able to demand a breath sample from any driver at any time.

Although there are some concerns that the new measures and Dräger test will result in court challenges, the Atlantic representative of MADD Canada, Susan McAskill, has stated in her interview with CTV Atlantic News, “It improves highway safety, and other countries where this legislation has been introduced, there’s been a significant decline in impaired deaths.”

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