Roadside cannabis tests coming to Greater Sudbury

Sgt. Tim Burtt told the Police Services Board during Monday's meeting that they now have six roadside screening devices for detecting cannabis and cocaine. Shortly officers in the Traffic Management Unit will be trained how to use the devices. 

Four out of 10 fatalities in 2018 included drugs or alcohol, says Traffic Management Unit

Sgt. Tim Burtt says everyone is still learning about cannabis and the new impaired driving laws (Supplied/Sudbury Police)

Road side screening devices for cannabis  will be hitting the road with the Sudbury Police in the near future.

Sgt. Tim Burtt told the Police Services Board during Monday's meeting that they now have six roadside screening devices for detecting cannabis and cocaine. Officers in the Traffic Management Unit will soon be trained how to use the devices. 

"It'll be used for provincial sanctions. It is not a device that's going to be used to form grounds for an impaired [driving charge], it's meant for provincial sanctions...commercial vehicles, graduated licenses and young drivers who all have to have zero drugs and zero alcohol when they're operating their vehicles," said Burtt.

"[We will] have it available during R.I.D.E. which is a great time especially if you have a graduated license driver or young driver." 

Someone under 19 years of age can get a fine of $125 for having cannabis, he says, and even if you're of age cannabis needs to be kept out of reach of the driver.

"When we're looking at people who have care or control over a vehicle or a boat with cannabis in an open original packaging, you're talking about $215 fines."

However, Burtt said he believes understanding the full impaired driving laws —  including how cannabis fits in — will take some time.

"It's an educational piece, I keep saying that, because I think everybody's going to be learning this over the next year or so when it comes to cannabis," he said.

With the impaired driving laws changing in December, it changed the criminal code and now Burtt and his team have to adapt to the changes.

"It's been a very interesting evolution over the last few months with traffic management," he said.

Drinking and driving is on the rise he said, just comparing the numbers from 2018 to 2017. There were 10 roadside suspensions for impaired driving in December, up from only 2 in for the same month in 2017.

In 2018, the Traffic Management Unit also investigated 10 fatalities. Four of them involved drugs or alcohol.

"Either drugs alcohol or a combination of both were involved in four of the 10. When we looked at, it was one sled, there was one watercraft involved, there was a motor vehicle on a roadway and there was a motorcycle on a roadway, so it was a cross section of what we would normally encounter," Burtt said.


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