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Drug-Impaired Driving

Policy Brief: Drug Per Se Laws

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Impaired driving can be deadly. Although people might think that drugs have less effect on driving than alcohol, we know that many types of illicit and prescription drugs impair our ability to drive. In 2010, nearly as many drivers died in road crashes after using drugs (34.2%) as those who had been drinking (39.1%).

Drug-impaired drivers can be detected by police officers who are trained and certified as Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). Such experts evaluate a driver’s behaviour and can request a blood, urine or oral fluid sample for testing.

Addressing drug-impaired driving

  • CCSA has commissioned several reports examining the validity of the Standardized Field Sobriety Test and youth and impaired driving.

  • CCSA worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to evaluate implementing the Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) program in Canada, the program used to train police officers to identify drug-impaired drivers.

  • CCSA collaborated with the government of British Columbia to conduct provincial roadside surveys, which provide valuable information on the percentage of drivers who test positive for alcohol and drug use.

  • CCSA hosted the first-ever International Symposium on Drugs and Driving in July 2011 in Montreal and is co-sponsoring the second International Symposium in November 2014 in New Zealand.

  • CCSA has examined the evidence and current status of strategies to address impaired driving, including drug "per se" laws. Currently, Canada only has per se limits for alcohol, where it is an offence to operate a vehicle with a certain level of alcohol in your body. CCSA suggests per se limits for drugs be considered​, although this is more challenging as limits need to be agreed upon for each drug, including prescription drugs.