Vol. 80, No. 1Just the facts

Cars at accident scene.

Impaired driving


Driving impaired greatly increases the risk of a serious crash. It's why driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada. Each and every time a person chooses to get behind the wheel while impaired, they're not only risking their own life, but the lives of others.

  • According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, crashes involving alcohol or drug-related impairment are the leading criminal cause of death in Canada — with an average of four people killed each day.
  • Incidents of impaired operation of a vehicle, vessel or aircraft continues to drop each year, reports Statistics Canada. The number decreased to 61,649 in 2017 from 63,968 in 2016. But incidents of drug-impaired operation are on the rise, climbing to 3,410 in 2017 from 1,937 in 2013.
  • Anyone sitting in the driver's seat, whether the vehicle is moving or not, is now required by law to provide a breath sample to police when asked. Failure to comply will result in criminal charges, which carry the same, or more serious, penalties as impaired-drivincg charges.
  • A Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is the amount of alcohol in your blood. If your BAC is 0.05 per cent, that means you have 50 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. Each drink consumed within a certain time frame increases your BAC.
  • In Canada, the Criminal Code BAC limit is 0.08 per cent. At this level, Criminal Code impaired driving charges can be laid.
  • The prohibited drug concentration levels of THC (cannabis) is two nanograms, or billionths of a gram, of THC per ml of blood. Having any detectable amount of eight other drugs within two hours of driving is prohibited. These include Cocaine, LSD, 6-MAM (a metabolite of heroin), Ketamine, Phencyclidine (PCP), Psilocybin, Psilocin (magic mushrooms), and Methamphetamine.
  • According to Health Canada, cannabis can impair your ability to drive safely or operate equipment because it slows reaction times, lowers the ability to pay attention and affects coordination.
  • Under new legislation, police can demand a blood sample and/or drug recognition testing after a suspected drug-impaired driver is arrested. In addition to possible injury or death, driving while high has the same penalties as drunk driving. They range from a maximum fine of $1,000 to 10 years in prison.
  • According to the RCMP, driving after using drugs, including prescription drugs, is just as dangerous as drinking and driving. Drug Recognition Experts can determine if a person is under the influence of a drug and can charge that person with drug-impaired driving.
  • A major research study prepared by Traffic Injury Research Foundation found that young people between 16 and 19 years old account for 23 per cent of fatalities, 18 per cent of injuries and 11 per cent of those arrested for alcohol-related driving offences.
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