COPS CAN DRUG TEST
Ckps Officers Complete Training
A new tool is at the hands of the Chatham-Kent Police Service to better detect drug use in impaired drivers.
Const. Chris Baillargeon, who recently became a certified Drug Recognition Expert, is qualified to conduct a 12-step drug impairment evaluation that allows him to classify the type of drugs he identifies in an impaired driver.
After training was provided to members of the CKPS by Baillargeon, he said "I could see the lights starting to go off.
"They started to remember situations where individuals were showing some of these symptoms, but they did not know what it was," Baillargeon said.
His training allows him to detect signs and symptoms for seven categories of drugs, including depressants, stimulants, narcotic analgesics, inhalants and cannabis.
He said officers would have to release individuals who did not blow over using a breathalyzer, but showed signs of impairment.
Baillargeon said Bill C2, passed in July this year, was the legislation that made it mandatory for drivers arrested for impaired driving believed to be under the influence of drugs -- rather then alcohol -- to complete the drug recognition tests.
"They can be charged with refusing to provide a sample if they don't comply," he said.
Baillargeon said since the legislation was passed, he has conducted two tests in Chatham- Kent, both resulting in charges.
He said the cases both involved individuals taking prescription drugs and have not yet appeared in court.
Baillargeon said drivers charged under these circumstances face similar consequences as drivers charged with the impairment of alcohol.
A conviction for a first offence consists of a fine and a one year driving prohibition. Subsequent convictions result in higher fines, mandatory minimum jail sentences, 14 days for a second and 90 days for a third. Baillargeon said he is one of 63 instructors of the drug recognition expert program across Canada. He said more than 350 drug experts exist across the country.
He said illicit drugs common in the area, such as marijuana or cocaine, can be detected using his 12-step program, which includes blood pressure, pulse, temperature and a urine sample.
Baillargeon is on-call 24 hours a day but the CKPS has expressed interest in getting another officer trained.
Chatham Daily News, The (CN ON)
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