Drug DUI

Criminal Offences and Penalties for Driving While Impaired

Operation While Impaired

Operation while impaired is defined in section 253(1) of the Criminal Code as:

Every one commits an offence who operates a motor vehicle or vessel or operates or assists in the operation of an aircraft or of railway equipment or has the care or control of a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment, whether it is in motion or not,

(a) while the person’s ability to operate the vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment is impaired by alcohol or a drug; or

(b) having consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the concentration in the person’s blood exceeds eighty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood.

What is a Motor Vehicle?

A motor vehicle means any vehicle that is moved by any means other than muscular power, like an engine or electrical power. This means that driving vehicles like a car, tractor, ATV, motorcycle, or trailer while impaired is illegal. Other vehicles can fit the definition of “motor vehicle” if they are moved by more than just your own body. For example, a skateboard or pedal bike are not motor vehicles.

What is “Care and Control”?

If you are not driving, but have “care or control of a motor vehicle” you can be charged. Doing something that gives you use of the motor vehicle or its equipment can be enough for police to criminally charge you. Even if you do not intend to drive, turning on the ignition will almost always fit “care and control” and be enough to charge you. This means that warming up your car, or having your key in the ignition, while impaired can be a criminal offence.

Does it Matter How Much Cannabis is in my Blood?

Under section 253(3) of the Criminal Code, there are 3 different offences you can be charged with depending how much THC is found in your blood within 2 hours of driving. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the chemical in cannabis which is responsible for its effects. Each of these offences can result in different sentences.

  1. Having 2 nanograms (ng) but less than 5 ng of THC per millilitre (ml) of blood;
  2. Having 5 ng or more of THC per ml of blood; and
  3. Having a combination of 50 mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, and 2.5 ng or more of THC per 1 ml of blood.

If you consume cannabis and/or alcohol after operating a motor vehicle, or are done having the care and control of a vehicle, and had no reasonable expectation that you would have to provide a sample, then that is not a criminal offence.

As of now, no one can say for certain how much cannabis you can consume before going over the limit, or how long you need to wait after consuming cannabis before it is safe to operate a vehicle again.

How Much Cannabis is 2–5 Nanograms of THC per Millilitre of Blood?

As of now, no one can say for certain how much cannabis you can consume before going over the limit, or how long you need to wait after consuming cannabis before it is safe to operate a vehicle again. How much THC you consume can depend on a lot of different things, like the specific type of cannabis and how you chose to consume it. For example, how deeply you inhale and how long you hold it in will increase or decrease you cannabis consumption. It may be possible that one joint, or one puff, could put you over the 2 ng limit. There is currently no official recommendation about how much cannabis you can smoke or consume to reach the 2 ng limit.

There is limited research on the influence of second hand smoke. It is a possibility that you could be effected by inhaling the cannabis smoke of someone near you.

It has found that THC can stay in your blood up to 30 days after it is consumed. This means that even if you are not impaired, THC can remain in your body.

What are the Criminal Penalties for Impaired Driving?

Drug Impaired Driving Cause Bodily Harm