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What Are the New Penalties for Drug Impaired Driving in Ontario?

In Ontario, it used to be that the penalties for driving under the influence of drugs were less harsh than those for drunk driving. No longer. At the start of October, Ontario brought in tough new penalties for those driving under the influence of drugs.

Under the new law, drivers who are caught driving under the influence of drugs – either street or prescription drugs – will have their driver’s licence suspended. That move brings drug impairment laws in line with drunk driving laws.

The New Law

Those caught driving under the influence of drugs now face a $180 fine. Your license will be suspended for:

  • Three days for the first offense.
  • Seven days for the second offense.
  • Thirty days for the third and subsequent offenses.

If you are tested by a drug recognition expert at a police station and drugs are found in your system, your license might be further suspended for 90 days and your vehicle impounded for seven days. You may be subjected to a urine test. Failure to comply with this kind of testing is a criminal offense whose penalties range from $1,000 to $5,000 in fines and 30 days to 18 months in jail.

If you have two or more licence suspensions involving drugs or alcohol within a 10-year period, you will now have to take mandatory education or treatment programs. Your vehicle will also have an ignition interlock device installed.

As always, impaired driving of any kind can lead to criminal charges. This could result in the loss of your driver’s licence, fines and jail time.

As with alcohol, a police officer’s roadside tests gauges your drug impairment. Because drugs can’t be found through Breathalyser tests, you simply have to appear impaired for these new penalties and impaired driving laws to apply to you.

Impaired Driving Is Not Limited to Cars and Trucks

Remember that drug impaired driving is not just limited to cars and trucks. ATVs, boats, snowmobiles and aircrafts are vehicles, too. You can be charged with impaired driving even if your vehicle is not moving.

Why has there been a new push on drug impaired driving? According to Toronto police, drug impaired driving charges have jumped three-fold since last year. The Office of the Chief Coroner reports that almost two in five of drivers killed on Ontario roads in 2013 had either drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol in their bloodstream. Toronto police say they believe that some drivers are switching to drugs rather than alcohol before getting behind the wheel because some believe that drugs are harder to detect.  

No figures that were Ottawa-specific could be found. A 2014 Ottawa Sun article, however, notes that drug impaired driving is on the rise nationwide. It’s not just marijuana. Depressants and opiates, such as the painkiller Oxycodone, are having an impact on drivers, according to police.  

Have You Been Charged with Drug Impaired Driving?

If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, contact Armoured Suits by phone at 613-233-0008 or e-mail at yourteam@armouredsuits.ca for a free 30-min confidential consultation.