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Penalties of Driving While High

Posted by Daniel K. Topp on 22 January 2019
Penalties of Driving While High


RIDE stops this year will be extra diligent due to the recentlegalization of marijuana in Canada. Driving while high in Ontario and across Canada is a very serious offence, and a conviction could change your life forever.

That's why you need be aware of the laws around driving while high in your region, to ensure that you aren't the first Canadian to spend Christmas in the joint for smoking a joint behind the wheel.

Drug Impaired Driving in Canada: Rules and Restrictions

Regulations around drug-impaired driving in Canada vary between provinces, but driving while high in Ontario is absolutely prohibited. If a roadside drug test finds that you have been impaired by cannabis use, you could face a battery of penalties ranging from an immediate license suspension to fines in the thousands of dollars, to jail time.

In particular, Ontario has a zero tolerance policy in place for commercial drivers, young drivers, and those without fully graduated licensing. So, if you have a G1 or G2, don't even go near marijuana before driving!

Can You Drive High with a Medical Card in Canada?

If you are an authorized user of medical cannabis, you won't be held subject to Ontario's zero tolerance policy for young/novice/commercial drivers, however, you can still get booked if the presiding police officer deems that cannabis use has impaired your driving ability.

So, if you're wondering, "can you drive high with a medical card in Canada?" the answer is a resounding "No!"

Mandatory Sentences for Driving While High

If you're caught driving while high, you will be subject to the official penalties for impaired driving, which get more severe if you offend multiple times within a 5-year period. They are as follows:

First offence

  • 3-day license suspension. This cannot be appealed.
  • $250 penalty (begins January 2019)

Second offence within 5 years

  • 7-day license suspension (3-day suspension for commercial drivers). This cannot be appealed.
  • $350 penalty (begins January 2019)
  • You must attend a mandatory education program 9for a second occurrence within 10 years)

Third and subsequent offences within 5 years

  • 30-day license suspension (3-day suspension for commercial drivers). This cannot be appealed.
  • $450 penalty (begins January 2019)
  • You must attend a mandatory treatment program (for third and subsequent offence within 10 years)
  • You will need to undergo a mandatory medical evaluation to determine whether you meet the requirements for driving in Ontario (for fourth and subsequent offence within 10 years).

In addition to the penalties above, you will also face a $198 license reinstatement fee each time your license is suspended. You may also be charged under the Highway Traffic Act and if convicted, you will face an additional suspension and fine.

Penalties for a BAC Over the Legal Limit, Refuse Testing or Impairment

If you refuse to take a drug or alcohol test, register a BAC over 0.08, or if a drug recognition evaluator determines that you are impaired, you will face:

  • 90-day licence suspension
  • 7-day vehicle impoundment
  • $550 penalty (begins January 2019)
  • $198 licence reinstatement fee
  • You must attend mandatory education or treatment program (for second and subsequent occurrences within 10 years)
  • You will be required to use an ignition interlock device for at least 6 months (for third and subsequent occurrences within 10 years)


Were you caught driving while high? Fight a drug-impaired driving charge in Canada with the help of Daniel K. Topp. Contact us today.

Author:Daniel K. Topp
About: For the better part of 20 years, my law office has been serving residents of Southwestern Ontario, including Windsor, Essex, Chatham and Sudbury by offering strong legal representation in criminal matters. Practicing criminal law has always been my passion, even from childhood. Growing up, I had a chance to watch my father, a seasoned criminal lawyer, serve the legal system. This was what inspired me to pursue a career in the same field. Over the years, I had a chance to observe, learn and receive guidance from him. After working hard at University and then Law School, I entered the legal profession at the young age of 23, and have been practising nothing but criminal law since. I have lived and breathed criminal defence law my whole life. And now with over 15 years of experience in this field, vigorously defending my clients I am in a unique position to assist you. If you need help, please contact my office today.

100 Ouellette Avenue, Suite 701,
Windsor, ON N9A 6T3

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