A judge who actually wants proof of impairment

Pot-smoking driver in Saskatoon deemed not impaired

A woman who admitted to using marijuana before getting into her car has been acquitted of impaired driving, with the Saskatoon judge saying he was not convinced her ability to operate a vehicle was affected. […]

In his decision, the judge said he was left with several unanswered questions, including:

  1. What signs of impairment would one expect to see in someone who has been using marijuana?
  2. How long after using marijuana would you expect to see these signs and how long would they last?
  3. Can the results of drug evaluation tests taken over 1½ hours after the time of driving be reliably related back to the time the woman was stopped?
  4. Was the woman’s performance in some of the tests an indication of poor balance or poor co-ordination?

On the other hand, the judge found there was plenty of evidence to suggest the woman was not impaired, noting:

  1. The officer did not observe any problems with her driving as she came to the check stop, when she was directed into the check stop or when she was directed to drive out of the line of cars to a nearby parking lot.
  2. She had no problems understanding the officer or answering his questions and did not slur her speech.
  3. She was able to provide him with her licence without any problems and had no difficulty following the officer’s instructions or getting out of her vehicle.
  4. When he asked her to take her hand off her vehicle and step away from it, she did so without problem. She did not have to hold on to anyone or anything for balance and after he handcuffed her, she had no problems walking to his police car and getting into the back seat.
  5. She was polite and co-operative with the officer.

What a unique concept. Don’t convict someone for being impaired unless there’s actually some evidence that they were… impaired.

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14 Responses to A judge who actually wants proof of impairment

  1. To my recollection, pre MADD era times, drivers didn’t routinely get pulled over unless there was obvious evidence for impairment or a road violation was observed. I always get the idea that nowadays an officers suspicion or curiosity seems to be enough. Since the Judiciary has been streamlined for speed with plea bargaining, the “old fashioned” ideas about constitutional rights and just cause seem to have taken a back seat to a well oiled machine and conviction statistics. Obvious and observable evidence of impairment should be the only justification for any type of stop for under the influence.

  2. darkcycle says:

    Sorry to launch O/T right off the mark, but please, allow me to introduce you to the Brave New Foundation (I know, I know, the name is stupid, but just look who’s involved):

  3. Servetus says:

    It’s obvious that holding marijuana to the same standards as alcohol intoxication in traffic stops will never work. Perhaps now the prohibs will concoct imaginary marijuana impairments, the way they’ve fabricated imaginary addictions.

    Also, I did an experiment, and I can touch my nose with my finger and eyes closed every time while stoned.

    • allan says:

      and I can stick my finger IN my nose every time! If that’s not sober…

      … of course the serious side to this is that the Office of No Drug Control Policy wants per se dui laws precisely to avoid persnickety judges like this young Canuckian feller. Facts, proof… all that technical stuff just gets in the way. Right Gil?

    • claygooding says:

      Standing on one foot,,with head tilted back,,the Texas one-step,,favorite of the TX DPS.

      • Windy says:

        If I did that I’d fall over, I suffer from vertigo when I tilt my head back (or to the side, or lie down or get up or bend over) and have had this problem for over a month now. Dr. says it’s a middle ear problem, perhaps a mild infection.

    • darkcycle says:

      Actually they are looking at the the extent to which your head and torso sway during the “head back, arms wide, eyes closed nose touch” test. With any level of balance impairment it becomes next to impossible to do this without swaying side to side excessively. I only mention this to save the folks on the edge. If you know what they’re looking for, you can practice and deliberately control for it (if you’re not too plastered).

  4. claygooding says:

    I wondered what a judge that had used or is using marijuana would do with an impaired driving violation,,as he knows first hand the lack if actual impairment.

  5. Bruce says:

    Been there. 2008 Dec 28
    What’s that Odor?
    The head back one step, In a 30 knot minus 6 onshore Northy. Shivering so bad it was near fatal. No drugs aboard. Flashlight in my face “You’re not doing so well on these tests.” Fuck you Smuggifer. I slur because I have no teeth. Just finished an 11 foot wide staircase with 5 landings and heavy double insert rubber nosings carpeted to perfection. Get a job and a life, Chumps. How handy the impound yard closed for 3? days extra holiday storage fee festivities. You nitFlea diggeyDogs owe me $1,200 with double usury.
    I want my money back.

  6. Duncan20903 says:


    Since we’re speaking about impaired driving, this one is from the “why aren’t people calling for the criminalization of cell phones?” category:

    Harsh punishment is warning to others not to text and drive.


    I believe that Arkansas is now the State that most quickly put its medicinal cannabis patient protection law in front of its State Supreme Court. No, it hasn’t been approved by the voters of Arkansas yet.
    Court asked to strike medical-marijuana measure

    • Servetus says:

      The conservative groups petitioning the Arkansas Supreme Court should be renamed ‘The Coalition to Preserve Arkansaur Values’; or Arkansaurians v. the People of Arkansas….

      Arkansas needs to concern itself more about reducing the male suicide rate in their state. Preserving Arkansas prehistory can come later.

      An average drop in suicides of 5 per 100K is correlated with becoming a medical marijuana state. In California, the suicide rate is 10.3, versus Arkansas at 14.6 per 100K citizens.

      • Servetus says:

        Sorry, that’s a 5 percent reduction in the total suicide rate, an 11 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 20- through 29-year-old males, and a 9 percent reduction in the suicide rate of 30- through 39-year-old males, not 5 per 100K.

  7. Duncan20903 says:

    This one is from the “ghost of Harry Anslinger” category:

    Kansas, nation can’t always keep up with constantly changing synthetic drugs

    ‘Public enemy No. 1’
    Following Taylor’s death in 2010, Norton, the Salina police officer, said the “epidemic” of synthetic drug use reached a breaking point in his community.

    Norton and his drug task force had been keeping a close eye on the problem, but Taylor’s death pushed the issue to “public enemy No. 1,” Norton said.

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