Cannabis Legalization: Drug-Impaired Driving Charges Could Lead to Court Backlog

Article by Michael MacDonald, City News

Cannabis legalization: Drug-impaired charges could lead to court backlog BY MICHAEL MACDONALD, THE CANADIAN PRESS Marijuana joints rolled with Canadian-themed paper are photographed at a "Wake and Bake" legalized marijuana event in Toronto on Wednesday, October 17, 2018. Canada's decision to legalize cannabis will create a backlog in the courts as those charged with driving while drug-impaired are sure to launch a wave of legal challenges, a lawyer who specializes in impaired driving cases says.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Canada’s decision to legalize cannabis will create a backlog in the courts as those charged with driving while drug-impaired are sure to launch a wave of legal challenges, a lawyer who specializes in impaired driving cases says.

Tom Singleton, who has practised criminal law for 25 years in Halifax, says the problem is that the tests police currently use to assess drug impairment are too subjective and somewhat inaccurate.

And the new roadside saliva tests, introduced by the federal government in August, aren’t expected to be that much better, he said.

“The federal government is engaged in wishful thinking when it comes to bringing in this kind of testing,” Singleton said in an interview Friday.

“Drug cases are going to clog up the court system because of the length of time required to deal with them.”

Singleton said the same thing happened when roadside breathalyzer tests were introduced more than 40 years ago.

“It will take decades before the courts establish it as being reliable,” he said.

Under the current system, when a police officer suspects a driver is impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, the officer can conduct a series of so-called field sobriety tests, which include examining the driver’s eyes and observing how they walk and turn, and if they can stand on one leg.

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