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Is it legal to drive high in Ontario?

Driving under the influence of drugs, including marijuana, is illegal in Ontario and in all of Canada. The Canadian government has established laws about drug-impaired driving in conjunction with the legalization of cannabis.

The Criminal Code of Canada has several offenses related to drug-impaired driving. The penalties for drug-impaired driving can range from fines to jail time, depending on the specifics of the offense and whether there are repeated offenses.

Specifically for cannabis, there are set legal limits for THC (the main psychoactive compound in marijuana) in a driver’s bloodstream. The limits are:

  1. A THC level between 2 nanograms (ng) and 5 ng per milliliter (ml) of blood is a separate summary conviction criminal offence, punishable by a fine.
  2. A THC level above 5 ng/ml is a more serious hybrid offence with higher penalties, which can include jail time.
  3. There’s also a combined THC and alcohol offence if a driver has a blood alcohol concentration of 50 milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 ml of blood combined with a THC level greater than 2.5 ng/ml.

Additionally, Ontario has provincial penalties that can apply for drug-impaired driving, which could include license suspensions and vehicle impoundment.

Driving high puts the driver, passengers, and others on the road at risk. It’s essential to always plan for a safe ride home if you intend to consume any substance that might impair your ability to drive. Always check current laws and regulations as they can change over time.

What is the first offense for DUI in Ontario?


In Ontario, the consequences of driving under the influence (DUI), also referred to as impaired driving, are quite serious. The penalties for DUI offenses depend on the specifics of the situation, including the level of impairment, whether any harm or property damage occurred, and if it’s a repeated offense.

For a first-time DUI offense in Ontario, the penalties can include:

  1. Immediate License Suspension: If you fail a breath test or refuse to provide a sample, there’s an immediate license suspension for 90 days.
  2. Fine: A minimum fine of $1,000.
  3. Criminal Record: A conviction for impaired driving will result in a criminal record.
  4. Mandatory Alcohol Education Program: First-time offenders might be required to attend a mandatory alcohol education program.
  5. Ignition Interlock Device: After a license suspension period, first-time offenders are typically required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle for at least one year. This device tests a driver’s breath for alcohol before the vehicle can be started.
  6. Increased Insurance Premiums: A DUI conviction usually results in significantly increased car insurance premiums.

The above penalties are for cases where there were no injuries or fatalities. If an impaired driving incident results in bodily harm or death, the penalties become much more severe, including potential jail or prison time.

It’s important to note that the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in Ontario is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood (0.08). However, drivers can face consequences for BAC levels as low as 0.05, which falls under the “warn range” and can result in shorter, immediate license suspensions and fines.

Also, for novice drivers and those under the age of 21, Ontario has a zero-tolerance policy, meaning they cannot have any detectable presence of alcohol in their blood when driving.

Laws and regulations can evolve, so always consult up-to-date sources or legal professionals for the most current information.

What happens if you get caught driving high in Ontario?

In Ontario, driving under the influence of drugs is treated seriously, akin to driving under the influence of alcohol. The penalties for driving while impaired by drugs (including cannabis) are meant to reflect the risk such behaviour poses to the driver, passengers, and others on the road.

If you are caught driving high in Ontario, here’s what could happen:

  1. Immediate License Suspension: Drivers who fail a standardized field sobriety test on the roadside can have their license immediately suspended for up to 3 days for the first occurrence (longer for subsequent occurrences). If a Drug Recognition Evaluator determines that a driver is impaired by a drug, their license can be suspended immediately for 90 days.
  2. Vehicle Impoundment: Along with the license suspension, the vehicle may be impounded for 7 days.
  3. Criminal Charges: If a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe you’re driving while under the influence of drugs, you can be arrested and face criminal charges.
  4. Fines: Conviction under the Criminal Code for drug-impaired driving can result in a minimum fine of $1,000.
  5. Jail Time: More severe offenses, especially if there’s bodily harm or fatalities, can lead to longer prison sentences.
  6. Criminal Record: If convicted, you would have a criminal record which can impact employment, travel, and other areas of life.
  7. Mandatory Education or Treatment Programs: Depending on the situation, you might be required to attend a drug education or treatment program.
  8. Ignition Interlock Requirement: In cases where drugs were combined with alcohol, a convicted driver may be required to use an ignition interlock device once their driving privileges are restored.
  9. Increased Insurance Premiums: Convictions for drug-impaired driving can lead to significantly higher car insurance rates.

Remember that the above penalties are even more severe if accidents, injuries, or fatalities result from drug-impaired driving.

As drug-impaired driving laws continue to evolve, especially after the legalization of cannabis in Canada, it’s important to stay updated on local regulations and always prioritize safety. Driving under the influence of any drug is risky and can have lifelong consequences.

Can you ride a bike high in Ontario?

In Ontario, the laws regarding drug-impaired driving primarily focus on motor vehicles. However, it’s essential to understand a few key points about riding a bicycle while impaired:

  1. Criminal Code: The Criminal Code of Canada prohibits operating “motor vehicles” while impaired, which includes cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even boats, but it doesn’t explicitly mention bicycles in this context since they aren’t motor vehicles.
  2. Provincial Laws: While the Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA) governs the operation of bicycles on roads and highways, it doesn’t explicitly penalize cycling under the influence of drugs in the same way as motor vehicles. However, police can potentially use other sections of the HTA or local bylaws to address unsafe cycling behavior.
  3. Safety: Regardless of the specific legal consequences, riding a bicycle while impaired by drugs or alcohol is dangerous. Impairment can affect balance, judgment, and reaction times, all of which are critical for safe cycling. There’s a significant risk of injury to oneself or others.
  4. Other Potential Charges: Even if you aren’t charged with impaired “driving” per se, there are other potential legal consequences. For example, if your behavior while cycling impaired endangers others, you might face charges such as public intoxication, causing a disturbance, or other relevant offenses.
  5. Local Bylaws: Individual municipalities might have bylaws that address cycling while impaired, so it’s essential to be aware of local regulations.

It’s always advisable to prioritize safety. Even if there might be a legal gray area surrounding riding a bike while high, the potential risks to oneself and others are clear. Always ensure you’re in a suitable state to operate any form of transportation, whether it’s a car, a boat, or a bicycle.

About the Author: Valerie D. Hahn

Valerie is an insurance editor, journalist, and business professional at RateLab. She has more than 15 years of experience in personal financial products. She strives to educate readers and ensure that they are properly protected.

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