I am often asked about the law on driving while impaired by cannabis. Since the legislation is brand new, many people aren’t aware of what is and isn’t legal when it comes to using cannabis and driving their vehicle. A common question is “How long should I wait before driving after consumption? While there is no concrete answer, experts advise waiting a minimum of four hours before driving. The timing may also depend on how much you have consumed, and how frequent a cannabis user you are.
In 2018, the federal government passed Bill C-46 for DUI drug charges. The following is a summary of the law:
- Between 2 and 5 nanograms of THC per ml of blood within two hours of driving results in a $1,000 fine.
- Over 5 nanograms of THC per ml of blood within two hours of driving could be a summary or indictable offence, and the punishment ranges from a $1,000 fine to a maximum of 10 years in jail for repeat offenders. In addition to this penalty, Manitoba Public Insurance will administratively suspend your licence for a minimum of three months.
- Both alcohol and THC in your system would be a hybrid offence, indictable or summary, and would also be punishable by a $1,000 fine to a maximum of 10 years in jail for repeat offenders.
New testing devices are currently being developed and tested by police services across the country. At the current time, the Winnipeg Police Service has deployed several oral fluid test devices to officers to test saliva for the presence of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. We can expect the WPS to expand the program and purchase more of the Drager Drug Test 5000 devices, which may eventually be as commonplace as the alcohol screening devices found in most police cruisers on the road.
While the law is new, and very few cases have been litigated in court thus far, we can expect to see more and more legal challenges taking place in the near future, with the expansion of the cannabis screening device program.