With the legalization of marijuana on the horizon to be in effect in 2018, new laws are also being put in place ahead of time to ensure that it is used safely, especially when it comes to getting behind the wheel.
"The federal government is passing three new criminal code offences for impaired driving caused by drugs, and setting the limits for drugs to the same as what alcohol was set at years ago," shared Earl Cameron, the Executive Vice President of SGI, "They are also introducing the part of this bill that allows police to use a federally approved screening device on the roadside. Because of that, these new laws that are coming into effect late in December or early January, SGI needed to make changes to our Traffic Safety Act for the same administrative sanctions that we already have now for alcohol and drugs, but also to mirror them for these three new charges and take into account that there will be a new device for measuring the use of cannabis and other drugs at the roadside."
Basically, SGI is taking the parameters around drunk driving, and placing them around driving while high.
"Impaired driving is impaired driving, whether it's alcohol or a drug, and it's impaired driving whether the drug is legal or illegal.
"Impaired driving is impaired driving, whether it's alcohol or a drug, and it's impaired driving whether the drug is legal or illegal. If you are impaired, then you could be charged or have sanctions put on you," Cameron stated.
That said, the science around marijuana is rather undefined and new, and so to be better safe than sorry, zero tolerance will be the name of the game when it comes to enforcement. While a driver impaired by alcohol sees consequences if higher than .04, any trace of cannabis in the system will result in consequences.
"There's rules, there's enforcement tools, and the best thing we all can do is...don't use any drug and then drive."
If a driver fails either a screening device test or a field sobriety test, they may face criminal code charges, as well as...
- The suspension of their driver's license immediately until the court has disposed of the charge.
- 30 day vehicle impoundment, or 60 days if the driver was over .16 blood alcohol content as well, and the owner responsible for towing and impound fees.
In addition to fines, jail time, driving suspensions and other sanctions imposed by the courts, a criminal code conviction would result in...
- Minimum one-year driving suspension to a maximum of five years.
- Penalties ranging from $1,250 to $2,500 under SGI's Safe Driver Recognition program, depending on the severity of the offence.
- Requirement to complete prescribed education programs, as applicable, depending on the number of previous criminal code convictions.
If the police determine that the driver has evidence of drugs in their system, but no criminal charge has been laid, then experienced drivers would face sanctions under the Traffic Safety Act similar those seen with alcohol related offences.
A first time offence could see immediate three day license suspension, three day vehicle seizures and mandatory educational programs. As with alcohol related offences, the consequences increase with repeats.