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Drug Recognition Expert Program

In Canada, studies indicate that drugs, either alone or in combination with alcohol, are found in up to 30 percent of fatally injured drivers.  In response to this problem, the Government of Canada drafted legislation, Bill C-2, which passed into law on July 2nd 2008, which provides police officers better tools to detect and investigate drug impaired driving. The law adopts the program endorsed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police which has been in effect in several states in the United States of America for many years.

The Treaty Three Police Service has been very proactive in the area of Drug Recognition and currently has 2 Drug Recognition Experts who have received extensive training and participated in at least 12 certification evaluations before being recommended as an expert by two senior instructors.

As well, several more officers have been trained to perform Standardized Field Sobriety Tests at the roadside.


 

 

Amendments in 2008 to the Criminal Code, gives (SFTS) and (DRE) Officers the authority to demand:

  1. Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) – Where there is reasonable suspicion that a driver has a drug or alcohol in the body. SFSTs are divided-attention tests that evaluate a subject`s coordination and look for nystagmus in the eyes, an involuntary jerking caused by alcohol and some drugs. These tests include checking eyes, a walk and turn test and a one leg stand test. They are administered at the roadside to determine if an officer has the grounds to arrest. A driver can be charged with Refusing a Field Sobriety Test if he or she fails to comply with the lawful demand of a peach officer.
  2. Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) – Evaluations where the officer reasonable believes a drug-impaired driving offence was committed and has placed a driver under arrest. These tests are administered at the police station by a Drug Recognition Expert and include such tests as Divided Attention Tests, Eye Tests and Clinical Tests including body temperature, pulse and blood pressure. The results of the tests allows the DRE to determine whether or not the driver is at medical risk or is under the influence of one or more of seven different drug categories. Failure to comply with a lawful demand for a DRE evaluation can result if a charge for refusal.
  3. A saliva, urine or blood sample – Should the DRE officer identify that impairment is caused by one or more of seven different categories of drugs; a sample is then tested for the presence of drugs by the Centre of Forensic Science. Failure to comply can result in a refusal charge.

Changes to the law also mean that drivers caught under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs may:

  • Face a maximum life sentence if they cause death and a maximum
  • 10 year sentence if they cause bodily harm, when their blood alcohol concentration is over 80.

Face tougher mandatory penalties such as:

  • $1000.00 for a first offence;
  • a sentence of 30 days in jail for a second offence;
  • a sentence of 120 days in jail for third offence and,
  • Face a higher maximum penalty on summary conviction of 18 months compared to 6 months previously. The five-year maximum, where the prosecution proceeds by indictment, remains.

For more information on this program please click on the following link to the International Drug Evaluator & Classification Program Website: www.decp.org/