Bill C-46: The New Impaired Driving Laws in Canada Relating for Cannabis, Alcohol, and other Drugs

Below is a detailed paper of the changes brought on by C-46 and the impact it has upon impaired driving law in Canada.

Referencing the toll impaired driving has upon the Canadian population and the impending legalization of cannabis, The Parliament of Canada passed Bill C-46.

C-46 bring with it many changes including:

  • A broader definition of vehicles, aircraft, and vessels that are captured under the term “conveyances”
  • A change in when the offence takes place (two hours after operating a conveyance);
  • What the legal limits are (per se limits) on drug use in the blood;
  • Broad investigatory powers of police to detect and analyze drug impairment and excess alcohol levels;
  • The introduction of random roadside breath samples;
  • The elimination of bolus defences;
  • A burden upon the accused to establish certain exceptions to offences two hours after driving;
  • Increased punishments and escalating fines depending on blood levels;
  • New driving offences for fleeing police;
  • Broader definitions and implications of driving while prohibited;
  • A codification of impaired driving case law; etc.

Criticism of the bill include issues of reliability of the testing devices used, unconstitutional violations of an accused’s fair trial rights, and the sweeping police powers the permit obtaining blood samples, random samples without grounds, and other controversial state overreach.

This is not just about driving while stoned on weed, there significant and wide-reaching changes in all areas of driving law in Canada

The changes are wide and profound. As Peter Keen said in Kyla Lee’s podcast “Driving Law”, the changes under C-46 are “The most significant Criminal Code changes to impaired driving law since the introduction of impaired driving law”

While many see this as the “impaired by drug” law, these changes extend far beyond that. The enactment of Bill C-46 has created significant changes to all driving law in Canada. This relates not only to impaired driving or being above legal limits, but also includes offences relating to dangerous driving, fleeing the scene, police pursuits, driving while prohibited, and any driving offences causing bodily harm or death.

In effect, C-46 repealed all Criminal Code driving offences and replaced them with a new scheme under Part 8.1 under the Criminal Code and starting at section 320.11. Sections 249-261 of the Criminal Code are now repealed.

Read more on the new law of impaired driving below

You can also download the paper in full by the link. Copyright 2019, Robichaud’s.

If you have questions or concerns about the changes that Bill C-46 brings, please contact one of our lawyers who can explain in greater detail the impact this has upon Canadian drivers and operators of conveyances. Our lawyers always welcome discussions from other lawyers, law students, or those seeking to retain counsel on impaired driving charges.

Call: (416) 999-8389

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