The use of cannabis or marijuana appears to have become much more common over the last few years. In fact, almost half of Canadians (including our Prime Minister) admit to using it at least once in their lifetime, and it is now legally accepted as a prescription drug for a variety of medical purposes.
However, while virtually everyone knows about the dangers of driving a car while under the influence of alcohol, the same cannot be said for driving while impaired by drugs. Statistics suggest that 1 in every 34 drivers has driven a vehicle within an hour of smoking marijuana. In 2013, 39% of drivers killed on Ontario’s roads had either drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol in their system. These statistics are shocking. What many people perhaps do not realize is that driving while high is dangerous and can result in criminal charges, identical to those for driving while impaired by alcohol. The Criminal Code makes it an offence to operate a vehicle while “impaired by alcohol or a drug… or by a combination of alcohol and a drug”. As such, driving while high can result in jail time and a permanent criminal record, as well as serious injuries or death if a collision occurs.
In addition, the provincial government recently passed the Making Ontario’s Roads Safer Act, which included new legislation to further penalize those who drive under the influence of drugs. Immediate roadside consequences for driving while high now include license suspension and vehicle impoundment. In addition, those drivers with a record of multiple suspensions will face mandatory education or drug treatment programs and installation of ignition interlock devices.
Driving while high is dangerous and illegal. Help spread the word.
Oatley Vigmond is Ontario’s Personal Injury Law Firm. If you or someone you know has been injured by an impaired driver, we may be able to help.