Sudbury

Greater Sudbury police checking for drug and alcohol impaired drivers this festive season

Police officers across the province are gearing up to check drivers for intoxication this festive season. Legalized marijuana is making their jobs a little more of a challenge. Sergeant Tim Burtt is with the Greater Sudbury Police Service traffic enforcement unit.

Sergeant Tim Burtt says refusing a breath test brings automatic penalties

Greater Sudbury Police Service's Sgt. Tim Burtt offers up a breathalyzer kit. (Casey Stranges/CBC)

Police officers across the province are gearing up to check drivers for intoxication this festive season.

Legalized marijuana is making their jobs a little more of a challenge.

Sergeant Tim Burtt is with the Greater Sudbury Police Service traffic enforcement unit.

He says officers continue to try to educate drivers who think it's okay to drink or take drugs that no level of consumption is safe.

"I think it's the same perception as everybody has always had with drinking and driving. 'Oh I'm okay. I'm fine to drive.' whereas most people are not fine to drive and it's still an education piece of what is fine to drive," he says.

Burtt says what is changing is that police are starting to have more tools and laws to back them up, as he gestures to officers who are stopping drivers nearby for checks.

"I can walk up as they're doing right here ... and I can say I want to see your license, insurance and ownership and I'm going to demand a sample of your breath directly in a roadside screening device. I think that's an amazing tool. It's across the world. There's different countries that do it. I believe Australia, and New Zealand have done it and impaired driving has dropped."

As for anyone who refuses to give a breath sample, Burtt says the penalties are immediate.

"You get charged and you're losing your car and you're losing your license. So there are checks and balances in place because there is a lawful expectation that you're going to provide your breath sample," says Burtt.

Burtt says he gets frustrated sometimes when he sees the tragedy inflicted on families of those impacted by impaired driving.

But he also says officers are working towards getting impaired drivers off the road, and that is rewarding.

with files from Casey Stranges

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