Starting yesterday drivers who are stopped by police and are suspected of driving while high on drugs now face the same penalties as alcohol impaired drivers. This is a great step into stopping stoned driving. Until now it has been very hard for police to charge and get convictions for driving high. It’s estimated that almost as many people drive stoned as though drive drunk.
Police will now administer field sobriety tests at the roadside for people who appear impaired and if the test is failed an immediate three-day suspension occurs for the first offence, seven days for the second and 30 days for a third offence. Licence suspension and impounding of cars is also permitted. The minimum fine of $180 and immediate licence suspension will get stoned drivers off the road. Criminal code charges can now be laid as well which increase the penalties and insurance consequences significantly. Drivers who fail the roadside test will be taken for further testing to a police station where a drug recognition expert will evaluate theme by other means including urine testing. Field test kits for common drugs are currently being tested throughout Canada and will be rolled out in the near future.
We need to get the message out that driving high is as dangerous as driving drunk. The problem with drug impaired driving is that there are currently no legal maximum dose limits established. Police fear that with the approaching legalization of some drugs this will become problematic. Perhaps the better approach will be to establish zero as the maximum allowable limit for any substance when driving.
Reports recently published indicate that while young drivers are far less likely to drive drunk than older drivers, they are far more likely to drive stoned. Older adults are also driving stoned. Many may be unaware that their abilities are impaired or that what they are doing is illegal though, as their impairment comes from taking legally prescribed medications that impair their judgement and reaction times. These drugs include sleep aids, tranquilizers, and opioids for pain.
Take a minute to talk to the young people in your life about all forms of impaired driving, and to review the medications you are taking to make sure you aren’t driving high by accident.