There is a need for improved approved road side THC tests

November 27, 2018, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

There is a need for improved road side pot tests

Rob Ford has been asking the federal government to better arm our law enforcement officers with the tools they need to test for cannabis impaired drivers. Premier Ford is asking the feds to take immediate action to approve more than one device for testing and to ensure that all approved devices work in all weather conditions. There have been reports that the currently approved device does not always provide accurate results in cold weather conditions.

Mr. Ford stated in his open letter that:

“As your government opens the door to widespread consumption of a psychoactive drug in our communities, it is critical that you also provide police with the necessary tools to ensure they can protect our roads and highways from impaired drivers”

Mr. Ford has repeatedly requested the federal government to help with enforcement efforts on drug impaired driving. When the federal government made recreational cannabis use legal, they should have ensured that all of the enforcement tools were in place for law enforcement throughout the country.

The federal government has responded to the criticism indicating that officers can also perform field sobriety tests along with or in lieu of the approved saliva tests to catch impaired drivers.

The concern for many is that the field sobriety tests don’t always hold up in court while the empirical tests are more widely accepted as empirical proof.’

The current testing device approved by the government for use in road side tests is the Drager DrugTest 5000 which tests saliva for the presence of THC.

According to the MTO website

How drugs and alcohol affect your driving

Illegal drugs, cannabis, over-the-counter and prescription medications can all affect your judgment, reaction time, coordination and motor skills. Even a small amount of drugs, no matter how they are taken, can impair your ability to drive, and when you drive high, your risk of crashing more than doubles.

The Canadian Society of Forensic Science recently released a report stating that impairment from cannabis begins almost immediately and can last up to 6 hours or more, depending on factors such as THC levels and how it is consumed. Frequent high-dose THC users may experience even longer periods of impairment. However, since the effects of cannabis vary, there is no way to know exactly how long to wait before it is safe for you to drive. The best way to avoid impaired driving is to not take a chance. If you’re using cannabis, plan another way home.

Alcohol — even one drink — can reduce your ability to react to things that happen suddenly. The effects of alcohol also include blurred or double vision, impaired attention and slowed reflexes. Alcohol-impaired driving is one of the leading causes of death on Ontario’s roads.

What counts as impaired driving

Impaired driving means operating a vehicle (including cars, trucks, boats, snowmobiles and off-road vehicles) while your ability to do so has been compromised to any degree by consuming alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two.

Fully Licensed Drivers

Throughout Canada, the maximum legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for fully licensed drivers is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, or 0.08. Driving with BAC over 0.08 is a criminal offence and the penalties are severe.

In Ontario, you will also face serious consequences if your BAC is between 0.05 and 0.08. This is commonly referred to as the “warn range.”

If police determine that you are driving while impaired by any drug, including illegal drugs, cannabis, prescription and over-the-counter medications, you will face severe consequences and criminal charges.

Zero tolerance for young, novice and commercial drivers

Young and Novice Drivers

Drivers age 21 or under and novice drivers of any age (with G1, G2, M1, or M2 licenses) must not have any presence of alcohol in their blood when behind the wheel. This is commonly referred to as the “zero BAC” or “zero tolerance” rule.

As of July 1, 2018, young and novice drivers are prohibited from having any presence of cannabis in their system as well as other drugs that can be detected by an oral fluid screening device. That means that Ontario has a zero tolerance approach to both alcohol and drugs for all young and novice drivers.

If police determine that you have the presence of cannabis or alcohol in your system and/or that you are impaired by any substance including illegal drugs, prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications, you will face severe consequences and potential criminal charges.

Commercial Drivers

As of July 1, 2018 drivers of vehicles requiring an A-F class licence, vehicles requiring a Commercial Vehicle Operator's Registration (CVOR) and road building machines are prohibited from having any presence of alcohol in their blood when behind the wheel of these types of vehicles. These drivers are also prohibited from having any presence of cannabis in their system as well as other drugs that can be detected by an oral fluid screening device.

If police determine that you have the presence of cannabis or alcohol in your system and/or that you are impaired by any substance including illegal drugs, prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications, you will face severe consequences and potential criminal charges.

Penalties for impaired driving

If police determine that you are driving while impaired you will face penalties immediately. You will also face additional consequences later if you are convicted in court. The penalties you face can vary depending on your age, licence type, the amount of alcohol or drugs in your system, and how many times you have been convicted.

Immediate Penalties

Penalties for a BAC in the Warn Range, Failing a Standardized Field Sobriety Test or Violating Zero Tolerance

If your blood alcohol concentration is 0.05 or higher, you fail a roadside sobriety test or you violate the zero tolerance requirements for young, novice and commercial drivers that begin on July 1, you will face:

First offence

  • 3-day licence suspension. This cannot be appealed.
  • $250 penalty (begins January 2019)

Second offence within 5 years

  • 7-day licence suspension (3-day suspension for commercial drivers). This cannot be appealed.
  • $350 penalty (begins January 2019)
  • You must attend a mandatory education program (for a second occurrence within 10 years)

Third and subsequent offences within 5 years

  • 30-day licence suspension (3-day suspension for commercial drivers). This cannot be appealed.
  • $450 penalty (begins January 2019)
  • You must attend a mandatory treatment program (for third and subsequent offence within 10 years)
  • You will be required to use an ignition interlock device for at least six months (for third and subsequent offence within 10 years)
  • You will need to undergo a mandatory medical evaluation to determine whether you meet the requirements for driving in Ontario (for fourth and subsequent offence within 10 years).

In addition to the penalties above, you will also face a $198 licence reinstatement fee each time your licence is suspended. You may also be charged under the Highway Traffic Act and if convicted, you will face an additional suspension and fine.

Penalties for a BAC Over the Legal Limit, Refuse Testing or Impairment

If you refuse to take a drug or alcohol test, you register a BAC over 0.08 or if a drug recognition evaluator determines that you are impaired, you will face:

  • 90-day licence suspension
  • 7-day vehicle impoundment
  • $550 penalty (begins January 2019)
  • $198 licence reinstatement fee
  • You must attend a mandatory education or treatment program (for second and subsequent occurrences within 10 years)
  • You will be required to use an ignition interlock device for at least 6 months (for third and subsequent occurrences within 10 years)

Additional Penalties if Convicted in Court

If you are a young or novice driver convicted in court for violating the zero tolerance requirements for drugs and/or alcohol, your driver's licence will be suspended again for at least 30 days and you will receive an additional $60-$500 fine.

No matter what age or licence you have, if you are convicted criminally of impaired driving in court, you can face additional fines and jail time, plus:

First offence

  • Licence suspension of at least 1 year
  • You must attend a mandatory education or treatment program
  • Requirement to use an ignition interlock device for at least 1 year
  • You will need to undergo a mandatory medical evaluation to determine whether you meet the requirements for driving in Ontario

Second offence within 10 years

  • Licence suspension of at least 3 years
  • You must attend a mandatory education or treatment program
  • Requirement to use an ignition interlock device for at least 3 years
  • You will need to undergo a mandatory medical evaluation to determine whether you meet the requirements for driving in Ontario

Third or more offence within 10 years

  • Lifetime licence suspension, which may be reduced after 10 years if you meet certain criteria
  • You must attend a mandatory education or treatment program
  • Requirement to use an ignition interlock device for at least 6 years
  • You will need to undergo a mandatory medical evaluation to determine whether you meet the requirements for driving in Ontario
Posted under Accident Benefit News, Drunk Driving Accidents, drug impaired driving

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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit www.deutschmannlaw.com or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.

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