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Supreme Court agrees to hear case on identifying drug-impaired drivers

The Supreme Court of Canada building is shown in Ottawa on April 14, 2015.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to look at the role of drug recognition experts in a case of impaired driving involving drugs.

The case involves an Ontario man who was charged in 2009 and twice acquitted, only to see both acquittals overturned by higher courts.

The key issue deals with the role of drug recognition experts – police officers trained to identify drivers impaired by drugs, or the combination of drugs and alcohol.

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One of the trial judges found that the Crown had not proved that the science behind the drug recognition training was reliable and refused to certify the police officer as an expert.

A higher court and then the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the expert testimony is legitimate and admissible and ordered a third trial.

The issue takes on greater significance in light of the new Liberal government's plan to legalize marijuana, which some critics have warned will increase the number of drivers impaired by drugs.

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