Why Was I Charged with Impaired Driving after Smoking Legalized Marijuana?

Even though marijuana is legalized in Ontario, it is still against the law to operate a motorized vehicle or boat while smoking or while under the effects of the drug. Law enforcement agencies throughout Ontario are starting to more heavily enforce impaired driving while under the influence of marijuana.

Law enforcement agencies have been reminding people that using marijuana impairs their abilities to safely operate a motorized vehicle or boat. If the police catches someone driving while impaired by marijuana, they could face serious penalties very similar to those faced by someone charged with driving while impaired by alcohol if convicted and found guilty, including:

  • Mandatory License Suspension
  • Vehicle Impoundment
  • Mandatory Court Fines
  • Jail Time
  • A Criminal Record
  • Higher Insurance Rates

In Barrie, on Legalization Day, RIDE check points were set up. The police charged one person with driving while impaired by marijuana. Another driver was charged with driving with easy access to marijuana.

RIDE Check points are mandatory stops set up by various law enforcement agencies not just in Barrie, but throughout the GTA and entire province. Attempting to avoid passing through a check point could actually lead to the police following and stopping you.

New Marijuana Case Law Will Be Forthcoming

With the legalization of marijuana, while new drug-impaired driving detection methods were put in place, they still leave much open to interpretation by the law enforcement and police officers who have to determine whether someone is impaired by marijuana. As these cases move through the court system, it is anticipated there will be more precise interpretations of marijuana impaired driving laws.

One of the biggest issues is how marijuana is metabolized by the body. Just like alcohol, every person metabolizes marijuana at a different rate. In some people the levels of THC in the body could still be elevated several days after a person legally uses marijuana. In the end, it will largely depend upon the discretion of law enforcement to determine when impairment is from recent use or use several days ago.

Since there can be variations between one person and another on how they decide if someone is impaired by marijuana, it will affect the outcomes of marijuana impaired driving charges. If it can be established the person was not impaired at the time, they could potentially have their charges dismissed. The best course of action while laws are still being redefined, is to not drive after using marijuana.

If you have been charged with impaired driving while under the influence of marijuana, it is highly recommended you seek your own legal advice from qualified Toronto impaired driving and criminal defence lawyer, Jeff Hershberg. Call (416) 428-7360 now for a case evaluation and consultation.

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