CAA Manitoba Fall 2018 | Page 33

hoW muCh is too muCh? Under Bill C-46, the feds have laid out maximum THC levels and penalties for drivers: 2 to 5 nanograms (ng) per ml of blood $1,000 max. fine 5 ng/ml or more, or 2.5 ng/ml plus blood-alcohol level of 50 mg% or more First offence: $1,000 min. fine Second offence: 30 days min. imprisonment Further offences: 120 days min. imprisonment Upon receiving blood sample analysis results, police in Manitoba can issue: 90-day driver’s licence suspension and 30-day vehicle impoundment with 5 ng/mL or more, or 2.5 ng/mL plus blood-alcohol level of 50 mg% or more Upon conviction: The accused person will also be subject to the ignition interlock program* *Impaired drivers may be charged with additional offences if their actions cause property damage, injury or death. bEhind thE WhEEl There’s no question: Cannabis influences driving ability; here’s how Cannabis and driving Not every motorist caught driving under the influence of cannabis will be criminally charged. In late 2017, Manitoba’s Cannabis Harm Prevention Act was passed to ensure that police agencies will be better equipped to deal with drug-impaired drivers. Though drivers who are hit with a provincial penalty for impaired driving won’t face the daunting possibility of a Criminal Code conviction, they’ll still face stiff consequences. That could mean an immediate 24-hour roadside licence suspension up to a 10-year suspension, and a minimum 120- day jail sentence for a third conviction. Liz Kulyk, CAA Manitoba’s corporate manager of government and community relations, acknowledges that many positive steps have been made. “The legislative framework in Manitoba is quite robust. The government has brought forth and passed several measures to put drug-impaired driving front and centre,” she says. “But it must be a continuing effort to ensure that research is dedicated to the link between THC and impairment.” Drug-impaired driving prevention will not be finished until drivers under- stand the true risks involved. To that end, CAA National, as well as federal and provincial governments, have all begun public-education campaigns about the risks of using cannabis. Under the influence There’s broad scientific agreement that cannabis can change driver behaviour. What’s less clear, however, is the amount of the drug that’s needed to impair driving, and the extent to which its increases the risk of a crash. Each person is affected by cannabis differ- ently; there’s no agreed upon level of THC that’s “safe” for everyone. The government is therefore taking a zero-tolerance approach. “Cannabis is commonly administered by smoking,” says Constable Stephane Fontaine, impaired driving counter- measures coordinator at the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS). “THC absorbs rapidly in the lungs and moves through the body and brain.” It can impact your attention, coordination, decision making, and reaction time. “That means a driver might experience difficulty staying in their lane or maintaining a constant speed,” Fontaine says. Research shows that drivers under the influence are more prone to drifting across traffic lanes. A 2012 study by researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax found that recent use of cannabis nearly doubles a driver’s risk of being seriously injured or killed in a vehicle collision. Fontaine expects marijuana legaliza- tion to increase drug-impaired driving. “Bill C-45 essentially introduces another legal substance that has the potential to impair a person’s driving ability.” Like CAA Manitoba, he believes that public education about the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis should be at the forefront. EnforCEmEnt on thE road oNe of the biggest changes to police powers under Bill C-46 has nothing to do with cannabis. The law gives police officers the ability to undertake random roadside screening. An officer can » Coordination reaCtion time ConCentration deCision-making distanCes Steering and other car instrument handling can be diminished. Drivers on cannabis are slower to respond to road situations. Attention can greatly diminish under the influence of the drug. Cannabis compromises your ability to make sound driving choices. Impairs ability to judge distance to other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. cAA MANitoBA FAll 2018 33