Ontario’s Drug Impaired Driving Laws

Tuesday March 7, 2017

Category: Driving Tips

Your path to lower auto insurance rates starts with safe, responsible driving. Which means if you’re planning on getting behind the wheel, you should avoid ANY drug that can impair your driving – just as you should avoid too much alcohol. And as of October 2, 2016, drug impaired drivers in Ontario face the same penalties as drunk drivers. Therefore, it’s important to that you understand both the risks and the penalties of drug impaired driving. Obeying the law will help you stay on the safe, responsible path.

Ontario drivers must also keep in mind, you can be charged with impaired driving while operating a vehicle of any kind. So, even if you’re driving a snowmobile or off-road vehicle, you could face a drug impaired driving charge.

How do Drugs Impair Driving?

According to the Canadian Centre for Substance abuse, nearly as many drivers died in road crashes after using drugs (34.2%) as those who had been drinking (39.1%) in 2010.

The way in which a specific drug impairs driving depends on how it affects the brain. Marijuana can slow reaction time, impair your judgment of time and distance, and decrease coordination. Cocaine or methamphetamine can result in aggressive and reckless driving. sedatives and benzodiazepines (eg. sleep aids) can cause dizziness and drowsiness while driving. All of these impairments increase the risk of a crash.1-3

Some drivers find it surprising to learn that even over-the-counter medications can impair your ability to drive safely.

Drug Impaired Driving Crash Risks v. Sober Driving

Cannabis: Two to six times more likely to be in a crash.

Cocaine: Two to ten times more likely to be in a crash.

Opioids: Up to eight times more likely to be in a crash.

Sedatives: Two to eight times more likely be in a fatal crash.

Benzodiazepine (eg. sleep aids): Two to five times more likely to be in a crash.

What are the Penalties for Drug-impaired Driving?

In addition to increasing your risk of a crash, drug impaired driving comes with significant penalties including:

If you have a drug-impaired driving conviction, it will appear on your driving record and can affect your insurance rates.

To prevent unintentionally driving under the influence, be sure to talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking. Your doctor can explain any side effects and advise of any driving restrictions associated with your medications.

Keep your driving record clean by avoiding drug impaired driving and drive sober every time you get behind the wheel. Driving sober is always the right choice for your safety and your insurance rates.

To learn more about drug impaired driving, visit the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse website.

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