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P.E.I. man sentenced after caught driving with four times the legal limit of THC in his blood

Nov 11, 2022 | Media Partners, The GrowthOp

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21-year-old sentenced to 10 days in prison, banned from driving for a year and ordered to pay $2,600

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A 21-year-old Prince Edward Island man has been banned from driving for a year and sentenced to 10 days in prison after he was caught high behind the wheel.

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Additionally, the man has been ordered to pay $2,600 in fines and surcharges, reports SaltWire.

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  1. Driving under the influence of cannabis can be a very risky behaviour, which is a grave public health concern.

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  2. Once stopped, officers with the Orillia OPP located an open alcohol container and cannabis that was accessible to the driver. / PHOTO BY FILE PHOTO /Postmedia

    Ontario man accused of impaired driving after cannabis and alcohol found inside his vehicle

  3. With smoking weed, it is much easier to control dosage and prevent overdoing it. /

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Initially pulled over for speeding, the responding officer noted the smell of cannabis emanating from the vehicle and possible signs of impairment from the driver, who handed over an expired licence and vehicle registration.

The driver then failed a SoToxa roadside screening test, a device that uses a saliva sample to test for the presence of drugs. A blood sample also revealed the man had a blood-drug concentration of 20 nanograms (ng) of THC in one millilitre of blood, four times the legal limit of 5 ng.

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During sentencing, the judge reportedly reminded the man that there are daily radio segments reminding drivers to wait at least four hours after smoking cannabis before driving.

For its part, the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) advises waiting at least six hours after smoking cannabis, and at least eight hours after ingesting it, before driving, notes Legal Line.

Research conducted by Public Safety Canada earlier this year, and the results of the 2021 Canadian Cannabis Survey, indicate that cannabis-impaired driving does not appear to be increasing following legalization.

One in four cannabis users says they have operated a vehicle while under the influence, which is consistent with data that dates back to 2017, reports the federal government.

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An RCMP member confirmed to SaltWire that a failed roadside screening test gives police legal grounds to make an arrest, issue a seven-day driving suspension and demand a blood sample.

If the blood sample, which can take about seven months to process, is positive, police can lay criminal charges. In the case of the P.E.I. man, who had no previous criminal record, about eight months passed from his initial arrest to his sentencing.

There are currently two approved roadside drug screening devices used in Canada, SoToxa and the Dräger DrugTest 5000. Like SoToxa, the Dräger screening system also uses a saliva sample to test for the presence of drugs.

The federal government notes that testing at or over 2 ng, but under 5 ng, of THC per millilitre (ml) of blood, is a summary conviction offence punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000. Those who test over 5 ng face a mandatory minimum $1,000 fine for a first offence, 30 days imprisonment for a second offence and 120 days imprisonment for a third offence.

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Earlier this year, RCMP in the Northwest Territories announced it would also begin using the SoToxa device, which prompted concern from defence lawyers who question the reliability of the technology, especially in cold-weather locations.

“It can lead to people being arrested who are actually innocent,” Kyla Lee, a lawyer based in Vancouver, told The Canadian Press. “The technology just doesn’t exist yet to allow police to make a determination of impairment via drugs using physical equipment,” Lee added.

We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with feedback and story tips at thegrowthop@postmedia.com

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