I was deeply saddened by a recent news story about the acquittal of a Saskatchewan driver on impaired driving charges – even after she admitted to smoking pot 2.5 hours prior and failed coordination tests. The judge said that while the prosecutor was able to prove that there was marijuana in her system, he failed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the pot actually impaired her ability to operate a vehicle.
And this isn’t the first case where a pot user has been acquitted of impaired driving. There have been similar acquittals in other jurisdictions.
In our own personal impaired driving story we ran into the same issue. The blood analysis showed that the driver who killed Mamma K had marijuana in his system. Score, right? To me, it should have been a done deal right there. But nope. The prosecutor told us that the marijuana wouldn’t be taken into account because there is no way (yet) to PROVE that the pot impaired his driving.
Seems to me Canada’s drug-impaired driving laws, which were introduced in 2008, need their own overhaul. According to the news story, MADD Canada representatives and advocates are calling on federal lawmakers to adopt drug-intake thresholds similar to the 0.08 blood-alcohol limit which would thereby remove some of the subjectivity contained in Canada’s drug-impaired driving laws.
I guess there are many jurisdictions in the United States, Western Europe and Australia that have already adopted such standards. Perhaps we should follow their responsible lead?
The best part of the article (or at least most laughable) was the comment by a spokesman for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson who said “Our government takes impaired driving very seriously. This is why we increased the penalties for impaired driving while giving police new tools to better investigate drug-impaired driving.” (Source: Canada.com news story)
As you know from my emails with Minister Nicholson’s office (mine to him – his response to me…5 months later – my heated rebuttal - NOTE: these links all open as PDFs), his comment falls on deaf ears from me.
First of all, we didn’t only need increased penalties for impaired drivers…we needed MINIMUM sentences as well. What’s the point of increasing maximums when they are NEVER used??? Just to “look” good???
Second of all, better tools for police to investigate drug-impaired driving are rendered USELESS if violations can’t be ENFORCED?! DUH! You need both the laws and the teeth to uphold it. Otherwise, what’s the point.
I find it so frustrating when I read comments such as that because it does not speak to how much this government is doing. It speaks to how much this government wants to LOOK like its doing. But in reality, it only showcases how OUT OF TOUCH the government is on what the real issues are, how Canadians are being affected and what impactful solutions need to be implemented.
What needs to happen for our Government to stand up, take notice and make real change? How many more innocent people have to die or be injured? I’m at a loss.
What do you think? Do you think driving stoned is as bad as driving drunk? How can we identify an appropriate impaired level for driving under the influence of drugs? I’d love to hear your thoughts…
On August 1, 2009, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.
More blog deliciousness here:
- I am so pumped. I just downloaded Evernote and then came across Kristin Nador’s post on using Evernote to increase your blogging productivity – fabulous tips and tricks. I am so excited to get started!
- Jenny Hansen started it. Now I want me a QR code of my own! Got yours?
- Very interesting post by Nathan Bransford who thinks you should NOT send your Tweets to Facebook. What do you think? I am not so sure because I have found a number of fabulous blog posts etc this way so it’s not a deterrent for me. Join him in the comments for discussion.