The Vancouver Sun reported that B.C. has passed a new law on Wednesday that sets up a system to test and penalize people, who drive under the influence of cannabis.
The law is set to govern a complicated process to weed out suspected drivers who sit behind the wheel while impaired.
The Vancouver-based lawyer Kyla Lee, whose firm Acumen Law had successfully challenged the provincial roadside prohibition process for alcohol several times, told the Vancouver Sun that the upcoming law, which will see taking all drivers back to a detachment for lengthy testing will spark Charter challenges.
“It’s going to be impossible to administer,” she said.
“You are going to have two different officers tied up for hours conducting these investigations.”
Lee took the drug-recognition expert training in December and said it’s “not very reliable” and doesn’t really pertain to marijuana impairment anyway.
“It’s a test designed to make you fail it.”
B.C.’s frustrated top cop
B.C.’s top cop, meanwhile, is blaming Ottawa’s slowness in selecting a roadside testing equipment for creating confusion in the western province.
Ottawa decision on the equipment will spell out Canada’s federal standard for roadside drug-impairment testing.
“So what we’ve got to do is at least get the legislative framework that we can operate in place,” B.C.’s Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said on Thursday.
Farnworth said it was difficult to pass the impairment law this week, which details ticketing and policing regime for drivers and cannabis, without the needed information from Ottawa over.
“That’s again what is frustrating for us as a province,” he said.
The new regime in B.C. will present a difficulty for police resources, Farnworth explained.
“It’s going to be very challenging. But we’re doing the best we can.”
In the new regime, B.C. police must undergo various steps, which involve numerous officers and could take hours.
The Vancouver Sun said the process starts with a police officer pulling over a driver and then suspecting the person might be impaired by marijuana.
If this is the case, then the driver is taken a police station, where a certified drug-recognition expert will put the driver through a 12-step test to determine if they should be penalized with a ticket or their license revoked through an immediate roadside prohibition that is similar to existing immediate roadside prohibition penalties for alcohol.
Similar to existing laws that forbid open alcohol and consumption inside vehicles, B.C.’s legislation forbids any consumption of cannabis, in any form, by anyone inside a vehicle, whether driver or passenger.
Fines also range from $5,000 to $10,000 and could include a prison sentence of six months, however, the Ministry of Public Safety said it expects to simply issue tickets for such offenses and not attempt court prosecution.
Worst, even if a driver passes the drug tests and is considered sober behind the wheel, B.C.’s new law could still penalize them.