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Impaired Driving Laws And Marijuana: What Canadian Drivers Need to Know

You Can Be Arrested For Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

Under Canadian law, operating a motor vehicle while impaired by either drugs or alcohol is considered a crime. A conviction for operating while impaired can have serious implications. In addition to losing your driving privileges and facing fines and potential jail time, a conviction may also negatively impact your reputation, and losing your licence may affect potential employment or educational opportunities.

It is critical to understand that impaired driving laws apply not only to drunk driving situations but also include the use of any drugs that may affect your driving abilities, including marijuana.

What are the Effects of Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana?

Common effects from driving under the influence of marijuana include:

  • Delayed reaction times;
  • Impaired judgment; and
  • Impaired perception

Many Canadian drivers believe that roadside sobriety tests can’t or don’t evaluate drivers for the presence of marijuana. This is not true. In fact, sobriety tests check for the presence of drugs – even over-the-counter ones – if police believe that your driving is impaired.

The Criminal Code of Canada, section 254(2)(a) provides that police may demand that a driver suspected of being under the influence of drugs, such as marijuana, submit to a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST), which often includes a physical coordination test. The failure to participate without a reasonable excuse may be an offence.

Further, police may also require you to provide blood, breath or oral samples to be tested for the presence of drugs, including marijuana.

An Experienced Canadian Criminal Defence Lawyer Can Successfully Challenge Impaired Driving Charges

If you are facing impaired driving charges as the result of the alleged use of marijuana, several possible defences exist.

First, it may be possible to challenge police procedure. For example, was the stop proper? Were your rights violated under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Additionally, it may be possible to challenge the alleged evidence against you. Were the proper steps used to collect evidence? What evidence do the police have that you were driving erratically? Have the police proven that marijuana was the cause of your alleged poor driving?

Many different factors are at play whenever police stop drivers for alleged impaired driving. Where marijuana use is implicated, it is important to consult with a skilled criminal defence lawyer who can evaluate your particular situation and provide the best possible approach to your defence.

The materials provided on this site are for information purposes only. These materials constitute general information relating to areas of law familiar to our firm lawyers. They do NOT constitute legal advice or other professional advice and you may not rely on the contents of this website as such.