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Starting July 2nd, the laws for driving under the influence of drugs in Toronto and throughout all of Ontario will become much stricter. Earlier this year, after almost 5 years of debate in the federal Parliament, a law was passed that will mandate roadside testing for drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs. Under the new law from Bill C-2, drivers could be ordered to surrender to a urine, blood, or saliva samples at a local police station. If you choose to refuse the drug test, you could be fined $1,000.

While there are standard procedures to nab those who drive while under the influence of alcohol, many believe those who use drugs and drive have been under the radar, so to speak. While the Criminal Code expressly makes it an offense to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol under section 253(a), the laws did not allow for specific testing to be performed by police. Additionally, under the current version, evidence from drug tests is only allowable at court hearings if the driver voluntarily took the test.

However, based on the amendments passed under Bill C-2, a driver suspected of being under the influence of drugs does not have to volunteer to be tested. First, police officers will be allowed to administer Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) if there is reasonable suspicion of driving under the influence. SFSTs can include walking a straight line, or testing a driver’s ability to multi-task. If the driver fails, under the new law, the police officer is authorized to send the driver to the police station for the administration of a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) evaluation which involves interviews and observations. If after the DRE, it is decided that the individual appears to be under the influence, a drug test will be administered through urine, saliva, or blood samples.

This new law will apply to being under the influence illegal drugs as well as over-the-counter and prescription medications. While many applaud the new law, there is also great controversy surrounding it. For example, the drug test can produce results of drugs that were taken several weeks prior, yet the information is still allowable as evidence in a court hearing.

As such, if you live in the Toronto area and are pulled over for impaired driving, whether it’s for illegal or prescription substances, you will likely need a good Toronto Criminal Lawyer. There are many more additions to the Bill C-2 which create stricter penalties and restrictions for substance impaired driving. These laws can be complicated and frightening when faced with large fines or prison terms, so be sure to consult with an experienced Criminal Lawyer to fully understand your rights, especially under this new law.