If you were making your way towards Craven for Country Thunder on Wednesday or Thursday, you may have been slowed down by an RCMP checkstop in Chamberlain.
The checkstop was located along Highway 11 to check for everything from the sobriety of drivers to drivers having the proper license to making sure the vehicle is registered.
One of the alarming trends that they found during the traffic stop was the increase in people driving under the influence of Cannabis.
“It’s on the rise and I think it’s on the rise because our officers are actually getting better training in regards to recognizing signs and symptoms of someone utilizing THC products and, as well, we do have some extra tools now that are available to us in more quantities,” said RCMP Traffic Services Unit Cpl. Brian Ferguson.
During the first day of the traffic stop, 20 vehicles were impounded. Of those, 19 were impounded because the driver was under the influence of Cannabis. One of those cases had an infant as a passenger and one positive test was for both Cannabis and Cocaine.
Saskatchewan has a zero-tolerance rule when it comes to driving under the influence of Cannabis. RCMP has roadside testing units if an officer has reason to believe the driver is under the influence that take a matter of minutes.
“Roughly in about 10 minutes, on average, it takes to do the test and we get a determination if they tested positive or negative,” Ferguson said, noting that a negative test doesn’t necessarily mean that person used Cannabis, but it didn’t meet the threshold of the test.
Ferguson added that people are still learning that, while it is now legal to consume Cannabis, it is still illegal to get behind the wheel after consuming.
“The onus is on you to determine your ability to operate that vehicle safely, and we all know that Cannabis is an impairing substance,” Ferguson said.
“If you’re going to utilize Cannabis and there’s nothing wrong with it as a legal product, you need to make sure that you are able to operate that vehicle because Saskatchewan has a zero-tolerance in regard to that.”
It was also noted that it isn’t just people heading to Country Thunder and other events in the area. The RCMP impounded a few vehicles which were work vehicles.
During the first day of the checkstop, the RCMP estimated they stopped 1,500 to 2,000 vehicles and issued 90 tickets and 400 warnings.
Four vehicle inspection notices were issued, which require the owner to have their vehicle inspected to ensure its roadworthiness.
Six tickets were issued for cellphone use while driving and 15 seatbelt tickets were issued. Four tickets were written for driving an unregistered vehicle.
The traffic stop was conducted by RCMP officers from 17 different units from across the province.
- With files from Steven Wilson, Discover Weyburn