Impaired Driving Tests
Canada’s new impaired driving laws give police officers some extra leeway to pull over drivers and compel them to take a breath sample on an approved screening device (ASD). The legalization of cannabis has also led to the deployment of approved drug screening equipment (ASDE), which tests oral fluids for the presence of THC and other drugs. As a driver, you should be aware of the different legal requirements for both yourself and the officer conducting the screening, as well as the testing process.
ASDs can be used to screen for alcohol even if an officer has no reasonable suspicion that a driver has consumed alcohol. Failure to give a breath sample when an officer has pulled you over carries substantial legal consequences, including a minimum 2000$ fine for a first offense. ASDEs, conversely, may only be used when an officer has a reasonable suspicion that the driver has consumed non-alcoholic drugs, including cannabis. Reasonable suspicion is not necessarily a high barrier, however; red eyes are sufficient for an officer to ask for an oral fluid sample. Non-compliance with a request for oral fluid sample carries the same potential consequences as non-compliance with a request for a breath sample.
Presuming you’ve given samples for the ASD and the ASDE, an officer might continue to suspect you are intoxicated; if this is the case, you may be subject to a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). There are a variety of tests that can be used in the SFST, including asking a driver to recite the alphabet, to stand still with their eyes closed for 30 seconds, to stand on one foot, to walk in a straight line, and to follow an object using their eyes. Much like the rules about breath and oral fluid samples, refusing to take a SFST carries significant legal consequences.
Should you pass the above tests, the officer may let you go. Failure on any of these tests may lead to your arrest. When you are arrested, you may be subjected to evaluation by a drug recognition expert. Many different things can occur during this evaluation. They may take a blood sample, they may search your body for needle marks, evaluate the size of your pupils, take your blood pressure, and look for other clinical signs of drug use. They will also interview the arresting officer. They may find that you were not impaired, or they may find that you were; depending on the answer, you may face a variety of legal consequences.
When you are arrested, you should get in contact with a lawyer immediately; the police will inform you of this right. You want to get in contact with an experienced impaired driving defense lawyer; they’ll be able to guide you through the process, advise you about your rights and help you make the best case for yourself.