Impaired driving summit expands focus
Police trained to recognize drug use
A meeting to discuss impaired driving on P.E.I. Wednesday evening took the discussion beyond drinking and driving.
The summit, sponsored by the provincial government, included representatives of Island police forces and Department of Transportation officials. Drinking and driving is a serious problem on the Island, with a rate nearly double the national average, and one that has been on an upward trend since 2005.
But participants looked beyond drinking and driving. They heard that two RCMP officers are taking special training in identifying when drivers may be impaired by drugs other than alcohol.
The province is looking at legislation that would require motorists suspected of driving while impaired by drugs to perform a test with a trained drug recognition expert.
"Newfoundland has some legislation that we're going to have a hard look at that maybe we'll put it into legislation here over the next sitting or two in the legislature," said Transportation Minister Robert Vessey.
MADD Canada CEO Andrew Murie was also at the summit, lobbying for new legislation allowing police to seize vehicles from people who blow over the limit.
"B.C., for example, has done an amazing job with their vehicle impoundment program, which Prince Edward Island does not have," said Murie.
"There was a consensus today that they need to seriously look at that."
The province reiterated its plans to move ahead with distinctive licence plates for repeat offenders, a strategy used by some U.S. states.
Vessey said as a small jurisdiction the province has an opportunity to experiment with strategies that might be difficult to implement in bigger places.
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