Examining impaired driving laws post cannabis legalization

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2019 | Impaired Driving Charges - Alcohol And Drugs |

It’s been almost a year since the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada. Since then, the government has opened its online store, and allowed private brick-and-mortar shops to open in different provinces.

The federal government also updated their impaired driving laws to include specific drug-related situations, and many provincial governments have also updated their respective highway traffic legislation as well. The updates also served to address public concerns over the legalization, and what protections were going to be in place to protect drivers and pedestrians if someone should get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs.

A recent article posted by Global News sheds some light on how well these new laws have been working across the country. The overall consensus appears to be that police are making very little arrests. And when they do so, they are usually in smaller, rural communities – not major urban centres.

Alberta has reportedly laid out eight charges since the new legislation passed. British Columbia has laid none, and Ontario and Quebec – while having slightly higher numbers – have mainly laid charges in smaller towns.

One of the reasons for the low numbers, according to the article, is that the laws are not necessarily being enforced the same way across the country. One of the reasons for this, report some provincial police officers, is the difficulty in trying to enforce the laws.

A special device is needed to check for amounts of THC (the ingredient that gets you “high” from cannabis) in order to justify an arrest. However, depending on what technology is being used – mouth swabs or immediate blood testing as nearby hospitals – it can become a complicated process to carry out.

And the tools for such tests – such as the Draeger mouth swab, the only federally approved mouth swab so far – have come under scrutiny for its accuracy. This is why its important for those who have been charged with impaired driving due to drugs to consult with an experienced criminal defence lawyer. He or she will be able to help you identify whether the charge or any related testing was done lawfully, the validity of any testing, and what your options are for potential outcomes.