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If you are charged for driving while high in Canada, depending on the province you live in, the consequences can range from fines to a criminal record. In Ontario, it is illegal to drive with any cannabis (or THC) in your system at all. Is it always that harsh, though? Here are the details as well as a friendly advice of where to get high quality help from a DUI attorney.
Is Cannabis Legal in Canada?
Canada decriminalized marijuana in 1969, with the passage of the Marijuana Act. At the time, possession was punishable by up to 14 days or a $100 fine. The law wasn’t repealed until 2001. It is now illegal to sell or possess cannabis in Canada (the law includes medical marijuana), but there is legislation on medicinal marijuana which allows licensed producers to provide it if identification is provided and it’s sold only through a government-issued prescription.
So, in short, it’s not illegal in Canada. But you should NOT be driving while high.
Is Cannabis Considered DUI?
Yes, it is. And in most provinces over the course of the past decade it has become standard practice to test for THC levels when and if a person is pulled over by police.
In Canada, police officers can pull a driver over if they have a reason to suspect impaired driving, regardless of whether or not that driver has been involved in an accident, and regardless of whether he or she has consumed alcohol or drugs as this behavior can also be a sign of impairment.
The rules about driving under the influence of cannabis are different in every Canadian province. *Note that there are currently no federal laws governing cannabis use and driving, so it is entirely up to each province to establish its own rules.
Consequences of a DUI Case
Differing consequences apply in different provinces for the first-time offender and those who have previously been convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The severity of charges and penalties typically depend on:
- First-offense convictions. Unless the person has a history of such incidents, there may be no more than a fine associated with an impaired driving conviction.
- Repeat offenders. Those who violate the law for the second time may face heavier penalties with some provinces suspending driving privileges for multiple offenses. In some cases, repeat offenders may even be facing jail time for driving under the influence.
- Possession of more than a certain amount of marijuana. In some provinces, drug possession is an automatic charge for a first-time offender. While in others the person must be convicted of an actual crime first, such as driving under the influence or theft. Depending on the amount of cannabis found, that may result in more severe consequences in one province than another.
- Drug-impaired driving convictions. This is a charge that is frequently added on to an impaired driving charge. In some cases, it may even be used as the basis for an impaired driving conviction. This charge has been responsible for numerous deaths, so having one on your record will likely result in longer penalties than if you were convicted of a DUI alone.
- Incarceration and vehicle impoundment. If a person is convicted of multiple DUIs, or if the previous conviction was within the last ten years, an offender may face license suspension and vehicle impoundment. This can be helpful if the offender’s driving privileges are reinstated, because it will shorten their waiting period back to the point at which they were impounded.
How Long After Cannabis Administration You Can’t Drive?
The bare minimum is 6 to 8 hours. For those who drive slower than 50km/hr, THC could still be detectable in the system after 4 hours. It will depend on your metabolism and how big your dose was. It is more common to have the effects of cannabis last longer than 8 hours, while it may be possible to get a negative result at 4 days after smoking.
The rules about driving under the influence of cannabis are different in every Canadian province. Note that there are currently no federal laws governing cannabis use and driving, so it is entirely up to each province to establish its own rules.
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