Drugs can impair your ability to drive safely and increase the risk of getting into a collision. In fact, marijuana increases your chance of a car accidentFootnote 1. Marijuana is second only to alcohol as the most commonly detected substance among drivers who die in traffic crashes in Canada.
Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada, and drug-impaired driving is increasing.
Getting behind the wheel while impaired by drugs is not only dangerous, it’s against the law. Drug Recognition Experts can determine if you are under the influence of a drug and can charge you with impaired driving. You could have your license suspended, face fines, criminal charges, and even jail time.
If you’re the least bit impaired, don’t take a chance with your life, your future, or the safety of those around you. Always drive sober.
There is no good excuse for driving while impaired, and being a passenger with an impaired driver is also risky. You have options:
- Make sure you have a designated driver.
- Call a friend or loved one to pick you up.
- Call a cab or a ridesharing service.
- Stay over and sleep it off.
Information for parents
Young people continue to be the largest group of drivers who die in crashes and later test positive for alcohol or drugs, and yet, only 11 percent of parents surveyed said they had discussed the risks of driving under the influence with their teenagersFootnote 2. This dropped to 4 percent when teens themselves were asked whether they had discussed impaired driving with their parents.
Start a conversation with your children about impaired driving. It could save lives.
Government of Canada initiatives on drug-impaired driving
- Don't Drive High Public Awareness Campaign
- Strengthening impaired driving laws
- Oral Fluid Drug Screening Devices Pilot Project
- Alcohol and Drug Impaired Driving: Current Tests, Criminal Charges, Penalties, Suspensions and Prohibitions.
Public Opinion Research on Drug-Impaired Driving
Driving under the influence of drugs is a major contributor to fatal road crashes in Canada and young people continue to be the largest group of drivers who die in crashes and test positive for drugs.
The Government of Canada’s drug-impaired driving public awareness campaign communicates to Canadians the risks associated with driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs. This campaign is informed by recent public opinion and qualitative research.
Public Safety Canada conducted researchFootnote 3 with Canadians on drug-impaired driving in 2017. A summary of the findings shows that:
- 81% know someone who has used cannabis and 56% have consumed cannabis at some point in their lives
- Among those who have used cannabis, 28% reported they have operated a vehicle while under the influence
- One in three Canadians report that they have ridden in a vehicle operated by a driver who was under the effects of cannabis
- Among those who have driven while impaired, 4 in 10 downplayed the risks by either indicating that driving while under the influence of cannabis is less dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol (25%) or that driving while under the influence of cannabis poses no real risk (17%)
- 65% agree that cannabis users often fail to realize that they are impaired from using cannabis, and 25% believe that the impacts of cannabis consumption are less detrimental to driving ability than alcohol
- 45% of youth (aged 16-24) report using cannabis, with the majority reporting they used it in the past 12 months
- 22% of youth who have used cannabis said they drove while impaired and most said they did it because they don’t think it’s as dangerous as drunk driving
- 1 in 3 youth have been a passenger with a cannabis impaired driver
- 44% of youth say it is easy to tell if someone is too high to drive
Public Safety Canada Working with Partners to Combat Drug-Impaired Driving
Public Safety Canada is working federal, provincial and territorial partners and with road safety advocates to help raise awareness of the dangers of driving while impaired by cannabis or other drugs including:
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