Canadians everywhere are overjoyed with the news of marijuana legalization, which officially takes effect next week. But, with legalization also comes new impaired driving laws, which will allow police officers to demand blood tests at the roadside in order to check a driver's THC levels.
According to the London Free Press, the new law will allow police to demand a blood sample from drivers once they have evidence of them being impaired behind the wheel. If the driver fails a field sobriety or saliva test, the officer will have grounds to demand the sample.
According to the new rules, anyone who is trained as a blood technician can perform the blood draw after police suspect that someone is impaired. In some places, police officers will be trained to facilitate these tests. But, the laws also state that the blood has to be taken within two hours of the person driving, meaning there's a massive time crunch.
There are a few different ways blood testing for marijuana could go down when it comes to impaired driving, especially with the time restriction. In incidents where there is an accident and the driver is taken to the hospital, blood can be drawn immediately upon being admitted to hospital. But, in other situations like R.I.D.E program checkpoints, it gets more complicated.
The new rules will come into effect with legalization next week. But, despite how quickly the decision has been made, police forces in Canada yet to actually figure out how to execute the roadside blood tests.
In bigger cities, police forces are looking at having medical specialists on call to come to police stations and draw blood once a person has been arrested for suspected impaired driving. In Calgary, officials are working on pursuing this route, but haven't finalized all the details yet. But, they have revealed that the plan would be very expensive to execute.
This solution wouldn't work in smaller towns, however. Not only would the high cost of on-call specialists put a strain on their resources, but the distance is a major factor too. In some parts of Canada, you could be over an hour drive from the nearest police station - with only a two-hour time window to perform a roadside blood test, the timing is next to impossible.
None of the police forces in Canada have confirmed whether they will have officers performing blood tests on the side of the road. But. with the new rules, it is an option that could be explored, especially in smaller or rural areas.
While the idea of police officers drawing blood anywhere, let alone on the side of the road is concerning, what's even more worrying is that with legalization just days away, no one has a concrete plan yet.
Source: London Free Press