A Houston RCMP officer just recently finished a specific training program to spot and deal with people driving under the influence of drugs has already launched his first investigation.
And it represents the tip of what will be a campaign this year to concentrate on road safety, says Houston RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Jason Burndred.
“He was selected because of his experience and success in standardized field sobriety testing,” said Burndred of the officer’s dealings with suspected impaired drivers.
With this recent training now finished, the officer has been classified as a drug recognition expert within the RCMP’s training programs.
Burndred said police forces will face a challenge later this year with the move to legalize marijuana and the resulting potential for more people to drive under the influence of the narcotic.
“So far, at least, there are no means to test for that,” said Burndred of determining the amount of a narcotic in a person’s bloodstream compared to either portable or stationary breathalyzer devices that can test for alcohol.
And that makes the local officer’s training so much more valuable for the local community, the sergeant added.
“Drivers should know we will be out there and looking,” he said.
Overall, Houston council has established road safety as a policing priority this year, drawing in everything from distracted driving to driving under the influence to excessive speeds.
That means motorists can anticipate officers keeping an extra eye out when on patrol as well as setting up check stops on occasion.
March has been designated as Distracted Driving Month throughout the province and local RCMP officers have been on the look out for drivers talking on cellphones or texting while their vehicles are in motion.
“I can say that Houston drivers by and large are very aware of the dangers of distracted driving but there are occasional drivers who will be talking [on their cellphones],” said Burndred.
Drivers caught using electronic devices face a ticket of $368 and four penalty points on their driver’s licence, with the latter translating into an additional levy of $175 for a total hit of $543 on a first infraction.