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Criminal & DUI Lawyers, including:
Three Former Crown Prosecutors

Drug Impaired Driving Legal Limits

In December of 2018 Bill C-46 was declared and this completely overhauled impaired by alcohol and impaired by drug legislation in Canada.  Completely new laws. And I want to talk about the legal limits now which have been set by Parliament for drug use and driving frankly. So I am going to give you the example of cannabis of marijuana.  So the legal limit is a per se limit. If you reach this limit in your blood stream and the police test your blood you are going to be charged criminally with impaired by drug. That legal limit is 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.  Now 5 nanograms, this is not a lot first of all and you can reach that level quite easily by smoking marijuana.

There’s all other sorts of other per se, I will call them, legal limits for all sorts of drugs.  Cocaine, magic mushrooms, psilocybin, you name it. LSD. Those have all been set legal limits. Now there’s a lot of controversy around this because how did they set these limits?  Is there scientific validity that a person’s actually impaired at those limits? Well maybe one person would be, maybe another one wouldn’t. Maybe none were. I am not sure of the science.  I’d like to see the science but there’s been a lot of controversy online about how they reach these legal limits.

So then the problem then becomes, what if you are a prescription marihuana user and you use marihuana all day long every day and you have to.  Well you are going to get in a car and probably be over or you could be over. You don’t know. What if you are an occasional user? How many hours before you get in a car should you smoke or not smoke?  You don’t know. It’s going to affect one person differently. It may stay with another person longer than you depending on weight. The safe course is never get in a car if you are going to have marihuana that day I would say but we have to figure out scientifically what is a safe time period and I don’t know that we’ve done that.  So I want to point that out. 

These per se limits in my view may be challenged in court in the upcoming years. In fact, I expect them to be and it may wind its way all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada but these were brought in, admirably so, to fight the scourge of drug impaired driving.  They’re very tough laws and if you fail them you’re going to be charged with penalties which are totally equivalent and in fact the same as impaired by alcohol which has serious consequences.  

So those are some of the issues we’re facing and some of the challenges in court we will be fighting it out, duking it out as lawyers, the Crown and defence lawyers over the next many years.

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