Can I get charged with a DUI if I am driving while I am high on drugs?

By Last Updated: June 14, 2022

Can I get charged with a DUI if I am driving while I am high on drugsYes, you can get charged with impaired driving if you are found driving while high on drugs, including marijuana. The elements that the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order for you to be convicted of this offence are almost the same as those in the case of impairment by alcohol/over 80. However, the manner in which the evidence of this offence is gathered can be very different.

In order for you to be convicted of driving while impaired by drugs, the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the following elements:

  1. That you were operating a motor vehicle or were in in care or control of a motor vehicle within the preceding three hours;
  2. That there were drugs in your body;
  3. That because of your consumption of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol, your ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired.

As with impaired driving, if the police suspect that there may be drugs in your body, they are allowed to demand that you perform physical coordination tests to enable them to determine whether further testing for the presence of drugs is warranted.

If the physical coordination tests are done in a manner that provides the police with reasonable grounds to believe that you might be impaired by drugs, or a combination of drugs and alcohol, they are entitled to demand a sample of your saliva, urine, or blood so that they can test for the presence of drugs in your body.

The physical coordination tests are conducted by a drug recognition expert (DRE). A DRE is a member of the police force who has completed special training to be able to properly assess whether a person is impaired by drugs using accepted medical knowledge and standardized field sobriety tests.

The physical coordination tests that a DRE administers must comply with the Evaluation of Impaired Operation (Drugs and Alcohol) Regulations. The regulations outline a 12-step evaluation that consists of the police taking measurements of your pulse, blood pressure, and temperature. The police will also conduct eye examinations, tests for balance, and visual examination of your exposed body for injection sites. If at the end of the tests the police have gained reasonable grounds to believe that you are impaired by drugs, they are lawfully entitled to demand that you provide them with a sample of your saliva or urine, which will enable them to test for the presence of drugs in your body. In some circumstances, the police may also demand that you provide a sample of your blood for this purpose.

If you refuse to submit to any of the tests that the police officer or DRE demands of you, you will likely be charged with refusal, another criminal offence. If charged and convicted of refusal, you will be subject to a mandatory minimum fine of $1000 and a mandatory minimum licence suspension of one year. If this is not your first impaired driving offence, the penalties can increase and in some circumstances you can even be liable for time spent in jail.

About The Author

Michael Oykhman

Managing Partner

Michael Oykhman is a senior lawyer and founder of Strategic Criminal Defence, a full-service criminal law firm with central law offices across Western Canada and Ontario.

My professional experience consists of countless court appearances and thousands of successful defences and satisfied clients. Over the last 10 years, I have worked to build a law office where all the lawyers share our collective experience, resources, and passion to help people. Our team approach to legal representation is client–rather than only law–centred. We look for opportunities to add value to our clients through strategic thinking and creative solutions.

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