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Drug-impaired driving offences

Region: Ontario Answer # 1885

Drug-impaired driving refers to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, which can include illegal substances, prescription medications, or over-the-counter medications. The use of these substances can impair a driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, increasing the risk of accidents and posing a threat to public safety.

The Criminal Code and provincial legislation

Drug-impaired driving offences in Canada are primarily governed by the Criminal Code, which establishes criminal offences and penalties for driving while impaired by a drug. In addition to the Criminal Code, provincial and territorial legislation, such as Highway Traffic and Motor Vehicle laws may also regulate drug-impaired driving, including administrative penalties and license suspensions. If you have been charged with a drug related crime, including drug-impaired driving, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible.

Drug-impaired driving offences

Drug-impaired driving is a serious criminal offence in Canada, and penalties for these offences can be severe. Specific offences under the Criminal Code are:

  • Driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs: Impaired driving, section 320.14 (1) (a)
    • This offense occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs (including prescription, over-the-counter medications, and illegal substances), or a combination of both. The law defines impairment as a diminished ability to operate a vehicle safely due to the consumption of alcohol or drugs.
  • Driving while exceeding the legal blood-drug limit, section 320.14 (1) (c)
    • This offence occurs when a person has within two hours after ceasing to operate a motor vehicle, a blood drug concentration that is equal to or exceeds the blood drug concentration for the drug that is prescribed by regulation.
  • Driving while exceeding the legal combination of blood drug/alcohol limit, section 320.14 (1) (d)
    • This offence occurs when a person has within two hours after ceasing to operate a motor vehicle a blood alcohol concentration and a blood drug concentration that is equal to or exceeds the blood alcohol concentration and the blood drug concentration for the drug that are prescribed by regulation for instances where alcohol and that drug are combined.
  • Failure or refusal to comply with demand, section 320.15
    • This offence occurs when a person refuses to provide a breath or bodily fluid sample or perform a sobriety test.

What are the penalties for drug-impaired driving offences?

Drivers who are found to be impaired by drugs will be subject to criminal charges that carry the same penalties as driving while impaired by alcohol, with the exception of summary cannabis impaired convictions (less than over 2 ng but under 5 ng of THC per ml of blood). If convicted of impaired driving, there are penalties under both the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and the Canadian Criminal Code. Penalties vary depending on the severity of the offence.

Criminal Code penalties may include:

  • Fines
  • Imprisonment
  • Licence suspension

Highway Traffic Act penalties may include:

  • immediate licence suspensions
  • vehicle impoundment
  • mandatory participation in a Ignition Interlock program
  • a licence reinstatement charge
  • fines
  • completion of an impaired driver’s assessment
  • completion of alcohol and drug education programs

Get help

For more information on drug-impaired driving offences and penalties, view 7709 Penalties for impaired driving offences or refer to our Cannabis Law section.

To erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been charged with a crime, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our preferred criminal defence expert, Calvin Barry Criminal Lawyers for a free consultation at 416-938-5858 .


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