The consumption and possession of small amounts of marihuana will be legal in Canada as of October 17, 2018. Canadians will be allowed to purchase cannabis and seeds for cultivation from federally licenced producers and possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in public. It will also be legal to cultivate up to four cannabis plants per household.
Various studies were recently released in the media inciting fear that that rising number of drug impaired drivers will potentially make Canadian roads exceedingly dangerous. One such study by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction asked 13,100 people if they recreationally used cannabis. About 12% of the population answered “Yes.” Many of these reported users—around 33%—are between the ages of 15 to 25. Furthermore, a survey by Statistics Canada reports that about one in seven cannabis users admitted to driving or having accepted a ride from a driver who had consumed the drug within the last two hours, revealing many Canadians relaxed posture toward cannabis-impaired driving. However, Canadian lawmakers have joined forces with local and provincial police departments to create a way to keep cannabis users on their toes. The Canadian Parliament will soon introduce a device to police departments for officers to test saliva samples of suspected cannabis-impaired drivers at the roadside. According to Canadian criminal lawyers and drug lawyers, this new device could unfairly penalize hundreds of thousands of licensed medical cannabis patients.
What Does Canadian Law Say About Drug-Impaired Driving?
In June 2018, Parliament passed Bill C-46 that made dramatic changes to our impaired driving laws. Bill C-46 strengthens existing alcohol and drug-impaired driving laws and establishes impaired driving laws that are considered to be amongst the strongest in the world.
Parts one and two of Bill C-46 amend and repeal the provisions of Canada’s Criminal Code on offences and procedures related to alcohol and drug impaired driving. Extensive reforms have been made to both alcohol and drug impaired driving making it easier for the police to detect and charge impaired drivers. Part I of Bill C-46 became law on June 21, 2018. Part II of the Bill will come into force on December 18, 2018. Some of the changes to the law include:
- Enforcing new criminal offences for driving with a blood drug concentration that is at or above the legal blood drug concentration limit;
- Allowing police officers to demand a driver to provide a sample of oral fluid (i.e. saliva) or a blood test to determine if the driver is under the influence of drugs at the time of driving;
- Authorizing mandatory roadside screening for alcohol; and
- Increasing the minimum and maximum penalties for impaired-driving.
Before Bill C-46, a police officer could only demand a roadside breath sample if the officer had a “reasonable suspicion” that the driver had alcohol in his system. For example, a police officer would have a reasonable suspicion where the driver had an odour of alcohol on his breath or admitted to consuming alcohol. A fail result on the roadside screening test provided the officer with the grounds to arrest the driver for “over 80” and make a formal demand for two Intoxilyzer breath samples to be taken at the police station or another location. If the driver exhibited more significant impaired symptoms such an odour of alcohol, coupled with weaving in and out of lanes, slurred speech or unsteadiness on their feet, the officer was allowed to bypass the screening test and immediately arrest the driver for impaired driving and make a formal breath demand to provide Intoxilyzer breath samples. Now, Bill C-46 essentially allows police officers to randomly pull over any driver and ask for a road side breath sample withouthaving a reasonable suspicion they have alcohol in their system.
What if I am Arrested for Alcohol or Drug-Impaired Driving?
Many cases of alcohol or drug impaired driving are defendable in court as it is not necessarily easy for the crown to prove that a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired. At Kruse Law, our goal is to help people who are arrested for impaired driving to either win their case where the charges are defendable or obtain the best result possible. Our team is compassionate, professional, and knowledgeable in defending alcohol or drug impaired DUI charges. We are committed to working hard on your case and doing whatever it takes to win your trial within the bounds of ethics and the rules of the Canadian court system. If you are facing impaired driving charges, contact us at 1-800-699-0806 for a no cost consultation or visit us online and complete the consultation form. For information about our firm please, visit our home page, videos and FAQ’s and learn more about how we can help you.