Designated Driver not Accountable for Cannabis-Carrying Passengers, Court Decides

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A Newfoundland judge determined that drivers do not need to search their passengers to be certain they are not carrying cannabis, after police charged a designated driver for transporting occupants while carrying open cannabis.

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The driver police charged, Alysa Theresa Cheeseman, was acting as a designated driver for friends too stoned to drive and said she had no idea they were also carrying cannabis in a mason jar.

“With respect, I do not believe that the intent of the legislation is to require that designated drivers must search their passengers before driving them home,” wrote Judge Harold Porter in his decision.

She was given a breathalyzer and taken to the police station for a drug impairment test, which she passed.

Cheeseman’s lawyer, Don MacBeath, said the verdict was important because the majority of offenses related to driving and intoxicants are automatic charges that apply whether or not the person charged is aware they are committing an offence.

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“She was driving people who had been smoking marijuana to prevent them from driving while they were impaired,” MacBeath said. “If she was guilty, then nobody could drive a car with anybody in it without searching them to make sure they didn’t have marijuana on them,” he said.