MADD Canada urges Senate committee to pass new impaired driving Act

by Cassandra Jodoin

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on Thursday.

On Saturday, MADD President and CEO Andy Murie told the Alberta Morning News that the group supported the bill passed by the House of Commons and is encouraging the Senate to follow suit.

"We strongly believe that the oral fluid testing for police for drug impaired drivers will be the same deterrent as the breathalyzer is for alcohol," Murie said.

"We believe the blood test to get an exact level is an improvement over the current system."

The proposed legislation introduces driving limits for cannabis and other drugs, new roadside testing devices to detect drugged drivers, and mandatory alcohol screening for drivers.

Murie said the equipment police have to test for impaired driving is good enough for now.

"Five years from now, they'll be better - just like they were for alcohol when the breathalyzer was brought in," he said. "So there's going to be a lot of technological changes and it'll just get better and more accurate. We're hoping down the road that you can actually measure the level, rather than [that] you're over [the limit]."

Murie said MADD Canada has been discussing with the provinces the possibility of having funds from impaired driving fines go into buying more oral fluid testers for drug impairment.

With the legalization of cannabis expected to arrive later this year, all levels of government are trying to prepare for related policing and testing for drug impaired driving.

Murie said his group is concerned that municipalities may not receive adequate funding for enforcement.

Murie noted that drug impaired driving is already a problem in Canada, even prior to the legalization of marijuana.

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