Abbotsford (With files from Global/CP) – Municipal police are increasing the amount of counterattack roadblocks during the holiday season, but Abbotsford police are concerned about a jump in the number of people driving while on drugs.
During a roadblock last weekend in Abbotsford, police did not issue any drunk driving suspensions, but plenty of stoned drivers were stopped.
Officers handed out four 24-hour suspensions for drivers allegedly impaired by marijuana.
They are now reminding the public about driving while under the influence of pot.
“I thought it was a typo,” said Cst. Ian MacDonald with the Abbotsford Police Department, after reading the end-of-shift report. “The fact that they were all in the drug category and there were zero in the alcohol category, that might be a first here in Abbotsford.”
“We really have to look at this as impaired driving,” he added. “It doesn’t matter if you’re impaired by cocaine or marijuana or alcohol, at the end of the day it becomes a road safety and a public safety issue, and regrettably it demonstrates to law enforcement you have to be prepared for all types of impaired drivers.”
MacDonald said the officers at the roadblocks assess the drivers by looking at their driving behaviours, the symptomatology of the driver and their interactions with the driver. There is no device at this time to allow police to test for drugs.
MacDonald sent out a tweet on Wednesday asking people to discuss the issue driving while impaired by drugs and said he was surprised at the response.
“A minority of people seemed almost to be very defensive about marijuana and the fact that they couldn’t think a person could be impaired because they were on marijuana,” he said. “And I just want to definitively say, it doesn’t matter what is impairing your driving, you’re putting yourself and others at risk.”