Driving Under The Influence Of Drugs In Ontario: When Can You Be Charged?

April 7, 2021

Like alcohol, drugs can impair your driving. When your driving is impaired, although you may feel fine, you run the risk of getting into an accident or worse, causing an accident. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, driving while impaired is a serious offence that can result in the loss of your license.

When can you be charged for driving under the influence of drugs?
When you are charged it means that an officer of the law suspects that you have committed a crime, in this case, driving under the influence of drugs. You can be charged after you have been pulled over by the police and they suspect or have proof that you were driving impaired.

In Canada, driving under the influence of drugs used to be treated differently by the police. Now, new laws are in place to ensure that all impaired drivers whether they have used drugs or alcohol, will be punished for their crime.

Why were drugs and alcohol treated differently by the police?
Because it is harder to detect when someone is driving under the influence of drugs, many people were not charged with this offence in the past. On the contrary, it is quite easy to detect when someone is driving drunk thanks to tests that the police officer can administer on the spot such as a breathalyzer or coordination assessment.

However, as of September 1st, 2015, Bill 31 (The Transportation Statute Law Amendment Act), states that if a police officer believes that someone’s ability to operate and control a motor vehicle or vessel is impaired by drugs or alcohol (or both), the person in question can be asked to surrender his or her driver’s license. Drug tests can be requested by a police officer if you are pulled over for driving under the influence.

Do you have to be driving a car to be charged?
When people think of ‘vehicles’ they often assume that it only applies to traditional automobiles. In Ontario, if you are operating any vehicle while under the influence of drugs you can be charged with impaired driving. These include cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, snowmobiles and off-road vehicles.

What happens if a charge leads to a conviction?
It is important to remember that drugs are not limited to illegal substances. Prescription drugs can also affect your judgement and coordination. If you are convicted of driving under the influence of drugs in Ontario, no matter what type of drug, you will could your license, have your vehicle impounded, be fined and have to attend a drug education or treatment program. Depending on the severity of your conviction, you may be sentenced to time in jail.

For more information about driving under the influence of drugs and the charges that apply, contact Toronto Defence Lawyers.

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