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September 12, 2014
For immediate release
Legislation to prepare for new devices to detect drug-impaired driving
Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal
Changes to the Highway Traffic Act will pave the way for Island police officers to have quick access to emerging new technologies to combat drug-impaired driving as soon as they receive federal approval, says Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Robert Vessey.
“New technologies are currently being developed to help tackle this serious crime. Ensuring our officers are equipped with these tools as soon as they’re approved will help keep our Island roads safe,” said the minister. “As the federal government considers the approval of these new devices, we’re laying the groundwork to make sure our officers have access to the tools they need to combat this crime as soon as possible.”
Drug-impaired driving is a growing crime across Canada and technology is changing rapidly to help fight this crime. New tools such as oral-fluid roadside screening devices will make it easier for officers to detect and charge drivers who are impaired by drugs.
The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal will introduce enabling legislation this fall to set the way for these devices to be used in Prince Edward Island once the federal government makes allowances for them in the Criminal Code. Changes to the Highway Traffic Act will allow law enforcement to immediately begin using oral-fluid screening devices and all technologies once they are recognized in the Criminal Code of Canada. Without these changes, law enforcement would have to wait for the provincial government to pass new legislation each time a new tool is recognized in the Criminal Code. Legislation will be introduced this fall.
The department will also amend the Act so that drivers convicted of drug-impaired driving will face the same mandatory addictions treatment that is currently required for alcohol-impaired drivers.
“While the department has announced numerous changes that send a clear and strong message that impaired driving will not be tolerated, it is a Criminal Code offense,” said the minister. “I look forward to discussing the roll-out of these new devices and their associated costs with the federal government as we work together to send the message that drug-impaired driving will not be tolerated.”
These changes continue to update the Highway Traffic Act to reflect that the dangers of drug-impaired driving are as serious as those while drinking and driving. Last year, the Act was amended to give law enforcement the power to immediately revoke a driver’s licence if they fail a Standard Field Sobriety Test and are suspected of driving while impaired by drugs. The need for new tools to help combat drug-impaired driving was an outcome of the impaired driving summit hosted by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal in 2013.