New penalties for drug-impaired driving take effect Sunday Oct. 2, 2016, in Ontario

Ontario motorists stopped by police for driving while high on marijuana — or other drugs — will face the same Highway Traffic Act penalties as drunk drivers starting Sunday, October 2, 2016.  It was already a criminal offence to drive a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs.

At a minimum, that means HTA fines of $180 and the immediate suspensions of driver’s licences under legislation passed last year to combat growing problems with drivers under the influence of drugs.

Drivers who fail a field sobriety test on the roadside face a three-day licence suspension for a first occurrence, seven days for a second and 30 days for a third.

Licences can be suspended for 90 days and vehicles impounded for seven days if motorists are taken to a police station for further evaluation by a drug recognition expert, including a urine test.

Criminal penalties for driving while impaired by drug in Canada include: a permanent conviction, a 1-year driving prohibition with no eligibility for the ignition interlock program, and a minimum $1,000 fine.

Section 48.01, Highway Traffic Act (As in force on October 2, 2016)

Short-term administrative licence suspension for drug or drug and alcohol impairment

Licence surrendered

48.0.1 (1) Where a police officer is satisfied that a person driving or having the care, charge or control of a motor vehicle or operating or having the care or control of a vessel meets the criteria set out in subsection (2), and where the officer reasonably believes, taking into account all of the circumstances, including the criteria set out in subsection (2), that the person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle or vessel is impaired by a drug or by a combination of a drug and alcohol, the officer shall request that the person surrender his or her driver’s licence. 2015, c. 14, s. 10.

Criteria

(2) The criteria for the purpose of subsection (1) are the following:

  1. The person has performed physical co-ordination tests under paragraph 254 (2) (a) of the Criminal Code(Canada) in connection with the driving or the care, charge or control of a motor vehicle or with the operating or the care or control of a vessel.
  2. The person has performed or submitted to tests or examinations prescribed by regulation for the purpose of this section, if any, in connection with the driving or the care, charge or control of a motor vehicle or with the operating or the care or control of a vessel. 2015, c. 14, s. 10.

Licence suspension

(3) Upon a request being made under subsection (1), the person to whom the request is made shall forthwith surrender his or her driver’s licence to the police officer and, whether or not the person is unable or fails to surrender the licence to the police officer, his or her driver’s licence is suspended for,

(a) three days, in the case of a first suspension under this section;

(b) seven days, in the case of a second suspension under this section;

(c) 30 days, in the case of a third or subsequent suspension under this section. 2015, c. 14, s. 10.

Same                               

(4) A previous suspension that took effect more than five years before the current suspension takes effect shall not be taken into account in determining whether the current suspension is a first, second or subsequent suspension for the purpose of subsection (3). 2015, c. 14, s. 10.

Suspension concurrent with other administrative suspensions

(5) The licence suspension under this section runs concurrently with a suspension, if any, under section 48, 48.1, 48.2.1, 48.3 or 48.3.1. 2015, c. 14, s. 10.

No right to be heard

(6) A person has no right to be heard before the suspension of a driver’s licence under this section. 2015, c. 14, s. 10.

Application of s. 48

(7) Subsections 48 (10) to (13) and (17) to (19) apply to this section with necessary modifications. 2015, c. 14, s. 10.

Regulations

(8) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations for the purpose of paragraph 2 of subsection (2) prescribing and governing tests and examinations described in or under the Criminal Code (Canada). 2015, c. 14, s. 10.

Ottawa Impaired Driving Lawyer

Charged with impaired driving? Call Ottawa criminal lawyer Brett McGarry to discuss the best defence for your case.