Article by Christine Coulter, CBC News
This week, the provincial government announced plans for the sale of recreational marijuana in British Columbia, but Vancouver defence lawyer Kyla Lee says roadside testing is lacking and there’s no provincial plan for dealing with drug-impaired driving.
“Right now, we have a structure in place under the Criminal Code for dealing with marijuana-impaired driving, but it’s a terrible system,” Lee told Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.
“We use, at the first stage, tests that were never designed to be used for drugs. They don’t actually apply to … marijuana’s effects on the body.”
Lee, who specializes in impaired driving cases, refers to the standardized field sobriety tests used by officers in B.C.
One of those tests is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test.
“It looks for involuntary jerking of your eyeball, but that doesn’t actually happen when you use marijuana, so the tests aren’t even specific to the drug that we’re using them for,” she explained.
The second is a one-leg stand where the driver’s balance is tested by forcing them to stand on one leg for 30 seconds.
“Which most people can’t really do anyway.”
The third is the test where you are forced to walk in a straight line.
“Those tests were designed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association in the United States to be specific to alcohol”
Lee says that during the tests’ creation, it was determined these tests should not apply to drug impairment.
“Here in Canada, we used them almost exclusively for drugs.”
Lee believes the province will go forward with immediate roadside prohibition, similar to alcohol, but says the province hasn’t specified whether it will use saliva tests, admission of the drivers, discretion of the officer or the current standardized field sobriety tests.