A partnership between the federal and provincial governments, and police agencies, will see more front-line police officers trained to detect impaired driving and keep roads safe.
Nova Scotia has developed a plan that will deliver Standard Field Sobriety Test and Drug Recognition Expert training to more officers across the province.
Justice Minister and Attorney General Mark Furey announced the program today, Dec. 13.
“Road safety is a top priority in Nova Scotia and our police agencies are well-positioned to combat impaired driving,” said Mr. Furey. “With cannabis legalization, and new, tougher federal legislation coming into force, we want to further increase our resources. By training even more front-line officers, we are sending a strong message that driving while impaired will not be tolerated.”
The training plan and the four-officer team that will deliver it, is being supported through $4.5 million over five years from the federal government.
“Our front-line police officers are the first and best line of defence against impaired drivers,” said Bill Blair, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction. “They are on the job every day checking for, and removing, dangerous impaired drivers from our roads. Training is key to support our police officers as they enforce the law and keep us safe.”
The team includes one officer from the Bridgewater Police Service, Cape Breton Regional Police Service, Halifax Regional Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This team will deliver training to all police agencies.
“Through collaboration, the training team will provide standard training to officers across Nova Scotia, improving road safety through enforcement and education,” said Cst. Robert Kavanaugh of the Nova Scotia RCMP and training team lead.
When a police officer suspects a driver is impaired, whether by drugs or alcohol, they may use observations or tests to determine impairment.
A Standard Field Sobriety Test involves a series of co-ordination tests, typically administered roadside. Nova Scotia now has 342 officers trained to give the test. Through this program, all front-line officers in Nova Scotia will be trained or recertified.
A Drug Recognition Expert evaluation includes steps similar to the sobriety test, along with indicators like blood pressure, body temperature and pulse, as well as measuring pupil size. Drug recognition tests are typically administered at a police station. Nova Scotia currently has 74 officers to conduct them. Through this training program, up to 85 front-line officers will be trained or recertified.
Amendments to the federal Criminal Code come into effect on Dec. 18, enacting stricter alcohol impaired driving laws. These include officers having the authority to demand a breath sample for alcohol of any driver they lawfully stop without reasonable suspicion that the driver has alcohol in their body and making it illegal to be at or over the alcohol limit within two hours of driving.
Corresponding changes to provincial regulations also take effect on Dec. 18. These include 90-day licence suspensions for criminal level drug impaired driving, new offences for blood drug concentration, extending the existing 90-day review process to the new 90-day suspensions, and shortening the minimum wait period before participation in an alcohol ignition interlock.
“MADD Canada welcomes the training of additional officers to detect drug-impaired driving and the enactment of mandatory alcohol screening,” said Susan MacAskill, MADD Canada Atlantic regional manager. “These changes will enable police to detect more impaired drivers – whether it is impairment by alcohol or drugs – and take them off our roads, making communities safer for everyone.”