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Province gets tougher on drug-impaired drivers

The province introduced legislative changes today aimed at taking more drug-impaired drivers off the road.

"These changes will ensure all drug-impaired drivers will face immediate consequences, including roadside licence suspensions, regardless of the type of test police use to assess them," Justice Minister Andrew Swan said in a statement.

The province says if police believe a driver is under the influence of drugs, the Criminal Code of Canada allows an officer to demand a physical co-ordination test. Police can also demand a more comprehensive drug recognition evaluation test, which can lead to criminal impaired driving charges.

Under the province’s Highway Traffic Act, a driver who fails the physical co-ordination test has their licence suspended immediately. There are also penalties for drivers who refuse to participate in the test or fail to follow officers' instructions.

However, when police believe they have reasonable grounds, they may demand the drug recognition evaluation test without first administering a physical co-ordination test.

The changes introduced today by Swan would ensure all consequences under the Highway Traffic Act equally apply in either situation, if the officers believe the driver is unsafe to drive or they refuse the test.

The changes also incorporate the Criminal Code evaluations into the province’s suspension, seizure and forfeiture program so that drug-impaired driving is treated consistently with alcohol-impaired driving.

The legislative changes come after consultation with police.

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