Impaired driving has always been illegal (in fact, laws against impaired driving have been in effect since 1925), but laws surrounding driving under the influence are about to change.
After Canada made headlines around the world for being the second country to take steps to formalize legalize cannabis, the government moved to amend some driving laws to better prepare for a new–and for many, exciting–world with legal marijuana.
Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code, received royal assent on June 21, 2018. Going forward, this bill will impact the ability of police services across the country to detect and enforce alcohol-impaired and drug-impaired driving.
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Drivers should note that part I of Bill C-46, which came into force on June 21, 2018, introduces three new criminal offences related to drug-impaired driving or when a motorist is seemingly impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol. The offences focus on the concentration of THC, measured in nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml):
• an offence for low-level THC concentrations of 2 ng/ml to less than 5 ng/ml = $1,000 fine
• an offence for higher-level THC concentrations exceeding 5 ng/ml = $1,000 fine to 120 days in jail
• an offence that recognizes the effects of combined marijuana and alcohol consumption; 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml blood plus 2.5 ng/ml or more of THC = $1,000 fine to 120 days in jail
It is important to note that the new offences apply to those with a medical authorization for cannabis at this time (as cannabis will not be legal for use among the masses until Oct. 17).
The Bill will also allow police to conduct tests, using approved oral fluid screening equipment or a blood test, to determine if a driver is under the influence of drugs at the time of driving.
While this new law creates measurable limits specific to marijuana, drivers should note that local police services already perform sobriety-testing. In fact, Halton police work to detect impairment via roadside sobriety testing and a post-arrest drug recognition evaluation.
“In anticipation of this new law, in 2017 our service commenced increasing its capacity to conduct both standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) and drug recognition evaluations (DREs),” said Chief Stephen Tanner.
“While police services wait for the federal government to approve an oral fluid screening device, we will continue to enforce based on observations of the readily recognizable effects of drugs and alcohol on a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.”
One of the biggest changes, however, comes with part II.
Part II of Bill C-46, which will come into force on December 18, 2018, will allow police to conduct roadside breath alcohol testing, without having suspicion of alcohol consumption, when a motorist is stopped by police.
To learn more about the bill, click here.