Taking drugs can and will impair your ability to drive safely, which in turn will increase the risk of getting into a car accident. The percentage of Canadian drivers killed in car crashes who test positive for drugs is now around 40%, exceeding the number, of drivers who test positive for alcohol, which is around 33%.

While impaired driving remains the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada, we have started seeing that drug-impaired driving is on the rise.

How does cannabis impair drivers? Let’s begin by stating that cannabis can impair each person differently. The effects on individuals can depend on some of the following factors:

  • The method of consumption: this refers to whether you choose to smoke a joint, use a pipe or consume edibles. Each method can have varied effects on you and can affect you for shorter or longer periods of time
  • The quantity of the weed you consume: this will depend on how many joints you smoked or how many edibles you consumed. This effects how long you remain stoned and how long it will take to clear your system
  • The strand of weed and its THC levels: This includes cannabis prescribed for medical use and can affect you differently depending on what percentage of THC is in the strand you are consuming, as well as if you are smoking Indica, Sativa or a mix of both.

How does Cannabis affect your ability to drive? Driving a vehicle requires you to be alert and focused. When you consume even small amounts of cannabis this will affect your ability to react and increases your chance of being involves in a car accident. Drugs impair a person’s ability to drive in the following ways:

  • Affects your motor skills
  • Will slow your reaction time
  • Impairs your short-term memory and your ability to concentrate
  • May cause you to drive faster or slower and even begin to veer from your lane
  • Reduce your ability to make quick decisions or handle unexpected events such as the car in front suddenly braking or a pedestrian darting onto the road.

There is no excuse for driving while impaired and being a passenger with an impaired driver can place you at risk. So how do you plan ahead if you are intending to consume marijuana? There are options available:

  • Make sure you have a designated driver
  • Call a friend or family member to pick you up
  • Take public transit (bus, metro)
  • Call a cab or a ridesharing service like Uber
  • Spend the night if the option is available

Currently, there is no guidance to drivers about how much cannabis can be consumed before it is unsafe to drive or how long a driver should wait to drive after consuming cannabis. Therefore, the best advice is not to take a chance by driving high. Driving under the influence of drugs is a major contributor to fatal road crashes in Canada and young people continue to be the largest group of drivers who die in crashes and test positive for drugs.

The Government of Canada has launched a drug-impaired driving public awareness campaign which aims to communicate to Canadians the risks associated with driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs.

The information provided in this blog post is strictly meant for educational purposes only. This information should never be confused with getting proper legal advice. There is no substitute for legal consultation with an experienced and professional traffic ticket lawyer who understands the law and how it affects you. If you find yourself in a situation like this, please do not hesitate to call us for more information or to book your consultation with us.