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.