Bill C-46 : New criminal impaired driving offences include Cannabis

Bill C-46
Bill C-46 : New criminal impaired driving offences include Cannabis

Bill C-46, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code, received royal assent on June 21, 2018. This Bill will significantly impact the ability of police services across the country to detect and enforce alcohol-impaired and drug-impaired driving.

Part I of Bill C-46

Part I of Bill C-46, which came into force on June 21, 2018, introduces three new criminal offences related to drug-impaired driving or when a motorist is impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol. The offences focus on the concentration of THC, measured in nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml):

  1. ​an offence for low-level THC concentrations of 2 ng/ml to less than 5 ng/ml = $1,000 fine
  2. an offence for higher-level THC concentrations exceeding 5 ng/ml = $1,000 fine to 120 days in jail
  3. ​​an offence that recognizes the effects of combined marijuana and alcohol consumption; 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml blood plus 2.5 ng/ml or more of THC = $1,000 fine to 120 days in jail

​It is important to note that the new offences apply to those with a medical authorization for cannabis.

The Bill will also allow police to conduct tests, using approved oral fluid screening equipment or a blood test, to determine if a driver is under the influence of drugs at the time of driving.

While this new law creates measurable limits specific to marijuana, drivers that use Halton roadways are reminded that the Halton Regional Police Service already has the ability to detect impairment via roadside sobriety testing and via a post-arrest drug recognition evaluation.

“In anticipation of this new law, in 2017 our Service commenced increasing its capacity to conduct both Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) and Drug Recognition Evaluations (DREs),” said Chief Stephen Tanner. “While police services wait for the federal government to approve an oral fluid screening device, we will continue to enforce based on observations of the readily recognizable effects of drugs and alcohol on a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.”


“Impaired driving affects all road users and the community at large. The Halton Regional Police Service will continue to apply strategic detection and enforcement tactics to remove these drivers from our roads,” continued Chief Tanner.

Part II of Bill C-46

Part II of Bill C-46, which will come into force on December 18, 2018, will allow police to conduct roadside breath alcohol testing, without having suspicion of alcohol consumption, when a motorist is lawfully stopped by police.

“Mandatory alcohol screening is in place in nearly a dozen European and Commonwealth countries and has been credited with reducing road fatalities by up to 40 per cent in the first four years after it was enacted. It provides a mechanism for better detection of those who choose to drink and get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. This element of Bill C-46 is just another step in the evolution of Canadian laws to support the detection and enforcement efforts of police services across the country,” said Chief Tanner.


Driving while impaired, whether by alcohol, or by any drug, is a criminal offence, and has been since 1925. Impairment by alcohol and/or by drugs affects information-processing, hand-eye coordination, judgment, concentration, comprehension, coordination, visual acuity and reaction time.

Community safety is a shared responsibility. We encourage residents and visitors to continue to work with us to reduce impaired driving. Impaired driving is considered a crime in progress. If you witness suspected impaired driving, please call 9-1-1 to report it. The life saved could be your own or that of a loved one.


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