“Drugged Driving” Charges Not Always Straightforward

Most people associate impaired driving with alcohol. When it comes to catching drunk drivers, the police have many tools at their disposal, from field sobriety tests to breathalyzers. Although these tools are not always perfect, they are generally recognized as accurate when administered properly and unaffected by factors known to skew the results.

What some people don’t realize is that driving under the influence of drugs, illegal or otherwise, can also lead to an impaired driving charge. Unlike alcohol impairment, however, it can be quite difficult to accurately measure the amount of drugs in a person’s system.

If you have been charged with impaired driving due to driving under the influence of a legal or illegal drug, you need experienced criminal defence. These are complicated cases that demand an in-depth knowledge of impaired driving law.

Increase in Drugged Driving Arrests

Under current law, there is no “legal limit” for driving under the influence of drugs. Most drugged driving arrests are made based on the police officer’s visual observations at a drug-related roadside evaluation – something police have had the authority to do since 2008.

Despite the lack of clear guidelines, police officers continue to make drugged driving arrests. According to the Ontario Provincial Police, the number of drug-related impaired driving charges increased by 32 per cent from 2013 to 2014.

Problems with Drug-Impaired Evaluations

Drug-related impaired driving arrests may be on the rise, but it is still difficult for police to accurately assess whether a person is truly impaired due to the use of legal or illegal drugs. Pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter drugs, and illegal substances all affect each person differently. A prescribed or indicated dose may be just fine for one person and contraindicated for the next. Furthermore, it is difficult to tell how long a drug has been in a person’s system.

Changes may be on the horizon, however. Several companies, including a Canadian company based in Vancouver, are developing technologies that purport to detect the presence of THC – the chemical compound in marijuana – in a person’s body. The majority of these devices are still in the testing stage, and it is unclear whether they will function at a level appropriate for law enforcement.

Unless and until technology improves, motorists facing drug-impaired driving charges need the help of a knowledgeable criminal defence lawyer to ensure they receive the best result possible in their case.

Ottawa, Ontario Criminal Defence

Criminal defence lawyers Bruce Engel and Elena Davies have represented individuals and businesses charged with hundreds of different offences throughout Canada for more than two decades. From the start of a criminal investigation to the close of a trial, we will take a balanced and forceful approach to your defence. We have the experience and know-how to effectively navigate the constantly changing justice system in Canada.

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Engel & Associates
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