Pandemic Sees Drug Impaired Driving Rates Go Up



The rates of drug impaired driving have increased in Ontario since the legalization of marijuana according to the OPP. The uptick varies throughout parts of the province. Numbers are a not consistent throughout the province due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on officer training on the use of the Drager DrugTest 5000 devices. While some officers were trained fully in the use, the force lacks enough trained officers in Field sobriety testing and drug recognition.

The federal minister of Justice and Attorney General approved the use of new testing kits in 2018 in Canada and the OPP obtained the new saliva testing devices in the fall of 2019. The testing devices are portable and the technology is tested and true. It has been used globally for decades as field tests across many industries and by police and fire services.

Orillia OPP have reported that seizures of cannabis from vehicles are up following legalization in 2018 as more people are likely to have it out in the open. Having open cannabis in a vehicle (like open alcohol) is illegal. Both substances must be packed away and out of reach of people in the vehicle. Ideally it should be in the trunk of the car.

Timmins OPP are reporting that nearly half the people charged for impaired driving since the beginning of the year were driving high, and some were both drug and alcohol impaired. The Timmins Police charged 34 people with impaired driving in 2020 and 13 were under the influence of controlled substances. This is almost the same as in all of 2019 which saw 37 people charged with impaired driving of which only 7 were high.

Province wide the OPP are seeing a huge jump in drug impaired driving. Rates of collisions involving drivers who are high are up 140% over last year and OPP warn that drug impaired drivers are posing a significant threat on the roads and higways of the province to themselves and others. This is all occurring in spite of the fact that for much of the late winter and spring there were very vehicles on the roads.

911 calls by fellow drivers and other witnesses to erratic driving behavior remain a key to catching drug and alcohol impaired drivers and police across the province urge people to call 911 and report any driver who seems impaired.

Drug and alcohol impaired driving is illegal and can lead to fines, licence suspension, insurance increases, jail time, and criminal charges.

If you are using controlled substances or drinking please don’t drive. Call a cab, ride share or a friend.

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