It is common knowledge that driving drunk can lead to criminal charges. But what if you are driving high?
Currently, under section 253 of the Criminal Code, it is an offence to drive “impaired” and it is an offence to drive with a blood alcohol level of over 80 milligrams per 100 mL of blood (known in criminal law circles as “driving over 80”).
Drivers who have not been drinking but who are stoned or high generally don’t have to worry about the “over 80” offence, but they can be charged for driving “impaired”. Indicators of driving impaired may include:
- Erratic driving
- Dilated pupils/reddened eyes
- Failing a “standard field sobriety test” (inability to walk-and-turn, standing on one leg)
- Failing a “drug recognition evaluation” (examination of various factors including pupil size, blood pressure, injection sites, balance test)
- Blood/urine drug tests
Because “impairment” can be subjective and difficult to prove (even blood and urine tests may be unable to establish “impairment” at the time of the offence), it has been rarer for people to be charged with drug-related impaired driving offences.
Bill C-46 sets out to change Canada’s approach to high drivers. The bill proposes amendments to the current impaired driving law that create “over 80” style rules for drivers on drugs. Accompanying regulations will define allowable “blood drug concentrations” and drivers who are caught driving with concentrations that exceed the new limits could be criminally charged. Until regulations are created and the new law comes into force, the current law stands.
by Craig Zeeh
In 2017, the government introduced Bill C-46, which is the most consequential piece of impaired driving legislation that Canada has introduced in years. Bill C-46 will add new provisions and amend old provisions of the Criminal Code for alcohol- and drug-impaired offences.
One of the significant changes of the Bill is the change to the use of approved screening devices, known as an “ASD”.
by Richard Posner
A police officer who reasonably suspects that a person is operating a motor vehicle with alcohol in his or her body may, by demand made forthwith, require that person to provide a suitable sample of breath into an approved screening device, known as an “ASD”. These devices are approved by Parliament and are the subject of important guidelines established by Ontario’s Centre of Forensic Sciences and the Alcohol Test Committee (see: https://www.csfs.ca/what-we-do/csfs-committees/atc-alcohol-test-committee/). With proper training and experience, the ASD is a relatively simple device to use, and its results are generally reliable.
by Eva Taché-Green
Anyone charged with a criminal offence knows there is a risk they will be convicted. In 2016, for example, 64% of criminal cases in Canada ended in a finding of guilt.1 On the other hand, anyone who has been convicted of a criminal offence knows with absolute certainty that they will be sentenced in some way. Although less than half of the sentences imposed in Canada include a period of incarceration,2 other sanctions, such as fines, driving prohibitions, and probation, can have serious consequences for an offender. Long after the drama of the trial fades away, the sting of the sentence lingers, particularly where the sentence imposed feels unfair. It is understandable that an offender in this situation may want to launch a sentence appeal.
by Alexandra Mamo
In anticipation of the upcoming legalization of marihuana, the government is ensuring that police officers become more skilled in identifying drivers who are impaired by drugs on Ontario’s highways.
The law currently allows police officers to go through three steps to determine if someone is driving while impaired.
by Richard Posner
Operating a motor vehicle while your ability is impaired by alcohol is a serious criminal offence in Canada. Equally serious is the related offence of operating a motor vehicle with more than 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of your blood. So too is the offence of failing or refusing to provide a breath sample at the roadside or at the police station. Each of these offences are informally but frequently referred to as “DUI charges”.