DUI & Impaired Driving Offences Now Include Recreational Marijuana

PUBLISHED ON October 13, 2019

DUI & Impaired Driving Lawyer

With the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada, DUI and impaired driving laws had to be modified to include impairment by cannabis.

The newly modified laws have outlined different provisions that include significant penalties and consequences if convicted and found guilty of a drug-impaired driving offence.

What level of marijuana is considered illegal to drive?

Ontario has taken a zero-tolerance approach to driving while under the influence of marijuana. Any level of marijuana is considered illegal and punishable as a DUI offence (note: there are exceptions for medical cannabis users). If the police believe you are driving under the influence of marijuana, they can detain you, test the level of THC in your system, and charge you with this criminal offence.

How do police test and screen for impairment from marijuana?

When you are stopped for a normal traffic stop, like running a red light or driving too slow, the office performs a roadside drug screening and evaluation. They will listen to how you speak and interact with them. They may check your eyes to see if they are glossed over or the pupils look dilated.

If they suspect you are under impairment, then they will take you into custody and transport you to the police station. Once you arrive at the police station, they may conduct a more detailed evaluation and screening.

They will also request you submit to a salvia screening test to determine the amount of THC in your system. Some jurisdictions have also started implementing the saliva test roadside. The saliva test can screen for marijuana use in the past 6 hours or so.

What are some of the penalties and consequences of being found guilty?

  • For a DUI offence with between 2 and 5 ng of THC, you could face fines up to $1,000 for a first offence through summary conviction.
  • For a DUI offence with 5 ng or higher of THC, there is a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000. For repeat offenders, there is mandatory jail time ranging from 30 days to 120 days in jail.
  • A mandatory license suspension ranging from 3 to 90 days or longer.
  • Your vehicle can be impounded and held for up to 7 days.
  • You could be required by the Court to complete a driver education program about the dangers of driving while impaired by drugs and alcohol.
  • Once driving privileges are reinstated, you may be required to pay for and use an interlock device.
  • The offence could be added to your criminal record.

Is it illegal to transport marijuana in a vehicle?

It is not illegal to transport marijuana in a vehicle, so long as it is in its original unopened packaging or is packed in baggage that is fastened closed and not in reach of the driver. If traveling with passengers, the marijuana must not be readily accessible by anyone in the vehicle.

This post does not act as legal advice and is not intended to do so.  It is for informational purposes only.  If you have been charged with impaired driving while under the influence of marijuana, it is in your best interest to speak with Toronto DUI criminal defence lawyer, Brian Ross immediately by calling (416) 658-5855.


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Brian Ross is a founding partner at Canada’s largest criminal Law firm, Rusonik, O’Connor, Robbins, Ross & Angelini, LLP. Prior to founding this firm, Brian was a partner at Pinkofskys, a leading law firm famous for its vigorous defence of its clients.

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