International News Desk – At Home: Roadside drug sobriety tests hit the streets – In Foreign News: Speculation over possible GM bankruptcy

International News Desk – At Home: Roadside drug sobriety tests hit the streets – In Foreign News: Speculation over possible GM bankruptcy

At Home: Roadside drug sobriety tests hit the streets

Most Canadians are aware that roadside Breathalyzer tests are used to help keep our roads free of drunk drivers.

And starting July 2, officials have another tool to help in their fight against impaired drivers: roadside drug tests.

As The Toronto Star reports, ?police can now require drivers to submit to roadside tests,? meaning Canadians who are suspected of taking to the roads high won’t be able to refuse a trip to the police station or hospital to undergo urine, blood, or saliva testing.

Before the new law came into force, police had no choice but to tell drivers suspected of being impaired by drugs that they weren’t obligated to take the roadside test.

Beginning July 2, however, ?refusing the test will be considered a criminal offence.?

If convicted of drug-impaired driving, individuals with a first offense face a minimum $1,000 fine. For a second conviction, It’s a minimum one-month jail sentence.

And if drug-impaired drivers are involved in a fatal collision, they could be facing a maximum of life in prison.

The new law came into effect in time for the summer’s first long weekend. It was unveiled in Toronto by Justice Minister Robert Nicholson, supported by many in both public and law enforcement roles, including the Toronto Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

At the time the new law was made public, Justice Nicholson also noted that the federal government is closing ?one of the great loopholes? in the legal system, making it more difficult for drivers to challenge Breathalyzer tests in court.

In Foreign News: Speculation over possible GM bankruptcy

It seems that everyone is feeling the pinch these days, but beleaguered General Motors Corp. will need to raise as much as $15 billion US to solve their financial woes.

And according to news reports, financial giant Merrill Lynch has said that a GM bankruptcy is ?not impossible? if the US auto market’s current slump continues.

The automaker recently saw their shares fall nearly 15 per cent to a new 54-year low. The dip marked ?the biggest one-day decline in GM shares in percentage terms since 1999,? accompanied by a rise in the cost to insure the company’s debt.

Merrill Lynch’s comments were the starkest yet about the automaker’s economic viability, but other analysts have also suggested that GM will need to raise funds to make it through the auto industry’s latest downturn.

GM didn’t offer a direct comment on Merrill Lynch’s report, but a company spokesperson told reporters the automaker feels confident in its ability to weather the industry storm.

?We continue to believe the company has sufficient liquidity for 2008, despite lower volumes,? said GM spokeswoman Renee Rashid-Merem. ?If conditions continue to deteriorate, we would consider other operating measures.?

One analyst with Merrill Lynch, John Murphy, sees the decline in automotive sales as a trend That’s likely to continue through 2009, and for the third time this year has lowered his forecast for the 2008 US industry-wide light vehicle sales.

Although most major automakers are projecting higher sales than industry analysts, concerns about GM’s sales outlook have been heightened after a June report showed industry-wide sales ?dropping to a 15-year low.?

Other major Wall Street concerns, including Citigroup, are also showing confidence declines in automakers and parts suppliers, and recently lowered their outlook for US auto sales for both 2008 and 2009.