With the recent legalization of marijuana in parts of the USA and a growing population in Canada who use it on a daily basis, drugged driving is a growing problem. Although police grade breathalyzers will test for blood alcohol concentration, there is currently no simple test for those who drive under the influence of drugs like marijuana, inhalants, and prescription medicine.
Because there is no test to find out simply and easily if someone is driving under the influence of drugs, police rely on continual training designed to help them recognize the signs of drugged driving. There are currently almost 500 Drug Recognition Experts in Canada who are called in to assess whether someone is driving under the influence of drugs.
What do police look for when stopping someone they suspect of drugged driving? Besides the general field sobriety test and inquiry about drug use, they can look for the following:
- Medical and physical signs of drug use including lack of coordination, blood shot eyes and slurred speech
- Increased or decreased blood pressure, temperature, and pulse rates
- Pupil size and reaction to light may be judged, and some law enforcement have a chart with different-sized semicircles so they can measure the driver’s eyes
- Possible track marks on arms and collapsed veins
Blood tests may be required if an officer suspects a drugged driver, but Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada want to take drugged driving recognition one step further. They’re asking law enforcement to require a saliva swab system that would be test for several different types of drugs. This type of test would be beneficial to building on-the-spot cases against drugged drivers, but opponents argue against the high cost and extra training law enforcement would require.
Way back in 2008, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse reported that drugged driving was responsible for 36.7 percent of fatal crashes in Canada and this number is increasing. You can keep the roads safe for everyone by always choosing a designated driver and staying clear of the wheel if you’re under the influence of any type of drugs, prescription or otherwise.