What you need to know about marijuana use and driving
Nov. 28, 2017
In Saskatchewan, it’s illegal and will continue to be illegal to drive while impaired – whether by drugs or alcohol – even once marijuana use becomes legal in Canada in July 2018.
To address the legalization of marijuana, law changes have been introduced at both the provincial and federal level. Details on the changes are below.
New federal laws
New federal legislation on drug-impaired driving is expected to take effect before the end of the year.
The Federal Government’s new legislation under Bill C-46 adds three new drug-impaired driving offences and prescribed “per se” unacceptable blood-drug concentration levels for impaired driving under the Criminal Code. These offences cover driving with:
- low threshold levels of drug concentration
- high threshold levels of drug concentration
- combinations of drugs and alcohol
Once Bill C-46 receives final legislative approval – anticipated late December 2017 or early January 2018 – the new changes will be in effect, meaning police will be able to immediately lay charges.
New provincial laws
On November 28, 2017, the Government of Saskatchewan introduced new legislation related to drug-impaired driving.
The Government of Saskatchewan has determined there will be zero tolerance for drug-impaired driving. The province’s legislation and regulations are being updated to make sure that the tough administrative consequences that impaired drivers in Saskatchewan currently face will also apply to anyone charged or convicted under the new federal laws.
Read the news release for more details.
Current provincial laws
There are already laws in Saskatchewan that address drug-impaired driving:
- There is zero tolerance for both drugs and alcohol for drivers 21 and under and all new drivers1.
- Drivers impaired by drugs face the same administrative sanctions as drivers impaired by alcohol.
Consequences for drug-impaired driving under The Traffic Safety Act are the same as for driving alcohol-impaired. They are:
|1st offence||2nd offence||3rd offence|
|New drivers with any level of drugs or alcohol in their system||
|Experienced drivers determined by police to be impaired by drugs or alcohol||
Current federal laws
Police can charge drivers under the Criminal Code of Canada for impaired driving – whether they are impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs. If you’re charged with impaired driving, your vehicle will be seized at the roadside for 30 days.
Note: Once amendments to The Traffic Safety Act pass in the Saskatchewan Legislature, drivers charged with impaired driving will also receive an immediate licence suspension until the court has disposed of the charge.
If you’re convicted of the charge, further consequences under The Traffic Safety Act include:
- Minimum 1 year driving suspension to a maximum of 5 years, depending on number of previous impaired driving related Criminal Code convictions
- Safe Driver Recognition program impacts: financial penalty of $1,250, or $2,500 if conviction includes injury or death
- Completion of prescribed education program, as applicable, depending on number of previous Criminal Code convictions
Marijuana use and driving don't mix
A driver who has used marijuana won’t react or make decisions as quickly as a sober driver. Attention, judgment, motor skills, balance and co-ordination are all impacted. Mixing drugs or mixing drugs with alcohol can significantly increase impairment levels.
Some people mistakenly believe that driving high on weed is “safer” than driving drunk. Not true. Marijuana impairs driving ability.
Signs of a drug-impaired driver
Police may can detect drug impairment through driver actions like:
- weaving within a lane
- delayed reaction times
- inability to follow instructions
Odor, and the driver’s physical appearance – including dilated pupils, poor balance and co-ordination – are other signs of a high driver.
Police can legally request a Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST) or a Drug Recognition Evaluation (DRE) at roadside if they have reasonable suspicion to believe a driver is impaired. The revised Criminal Code will allow for oral fluid (saliva) testing.