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Drug-impaired driving charges on the rise: Toronto police

Study looks into the effect of cannabis on driving
What happens when you get behind the wheel after getting high? And as Erica Vella reports, a study being done out of Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is looking at the impacts of cannabis when driving.

It’s been nine years since Nancy Stewart’s husband Doug was killed by an impaired driver, just one day before Father’s Day.

He was killed on his way home from his mother’s 80th birthday celebration in Stratford, Ont.

“[The driver] was going about 140 km and had alcohol and drugs as well,” she said.

“Doug had purposely drunk milk at this birthday dinner and he was actually going the speed limit.”

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Stewart and her four children are still coming to terms with the loss.

“There is a sense of rage,” Stewart said. “We never call it an accident. It’s not an accident. People make that decision to drive impaired and it’s completely selfish and unthoughtful and it’s inexcusable.”

READ MORE: Police testing roadside devices to detect drugs

Despite the tragic loss, police say there still appears to be an increase of drug-impaired driving charges.

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There were 28 drugged driving charges laid in Toronto last year. Since the beginning of 2016, that number has been surpassed, with 30 charges.

“These numbers should be a wake-up call to the general public,” said Const. Clint Stibbe with Toronto police traffic services.

“The operating a motor vehicle while impaired – regardless of how you are impaired – is a bad choice and it’s putting people at risk.”

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READ MORE: Stoned behind the wheel? Study looking at effect of cannabis on driving

The increase comes as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health studies the impacts of cannabis while driving. The results are set to be published next year.

As the federal government moves towards legalizing marijuana, police across Canada are moving to test three saliva-based roadside devices on suspected drug-impaired drivers with hopes of increasing detection.

READ MORE: Police look for direction dealing with high drivers

The Mounties have said surveys and research suggest drug-impaired driving is becoming as prevalent as driving under the influence of alcohol.

However, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, almost as many drivers died in road crashes after using drugs as those who had been drinking.

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