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MADD Canada shares effects of alcohol, cannabis on driving

By Aviva Canada on


Some Canadians are turning to alcohol and cannabis to cope.

“New evidence suggests [the pandemic] may have… had an influence on the alcohol and drug consumption habits of Canadians. Some may have had more free time to consume alcohol and non-medical cannabis, while others may have increased their consumption in an effort to relieve boredom or fight loneliness,” reports Statistics Canada.

What effect could this have on the safety of our roads? MADD Canada is responding by increasing impaired driving education for all Canadians during Canada Road Safety Week (May 18-24).

“Given MADD Canada’s specific mission to reduce impaired driving and… the numerous reports showing increased alcohol and cannabis consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada Road Safety Week is a perfect time to revisit some of the basics about the effects of alcohol and cannabis use on driving, and impaired driving laws,” said Jaymie-Lyne Hancock, MADD Canada’s national president.

As we commemorate Canada Road Safety Week, let’s take a look at the rules of the road when it comes to alcohol and cannabis.What should you know about alcohol and driving?

Most Canadians are aware that alcohol decreases a person’s ability to drive safely. It impairs every skill you need to drive, plus your ability to judge just how impaired you actually are. The more you drink, the greater the effect.

According to MADD, drivers with even a little alcohol in their systems are more likely to be involved in a collision causing death than a sober driver.

In 2018, the Government of Canada introduced mandatory alcohol screening, which gives police the authority to demand a breath sample from any driver that has been lawfully stopped.

The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is .08% across Canada. If a driver exceeds that, they will face fines, lengthy driving prohibition and possibly jail time. Most provinces have .00% BAC and zero drug requirements for young and novice drivers until they reach a certain age or have completed the provincial graduated licencing program.

Did you know that virtually every province and territory has administrative laws for drivers whose BACs are between .05% - .08%? These include licence suspensions, vehicle impoundments and alcohol ignition interlocks.Sobering up takes more than a nap

It’s a myth that a cup of coffee, a hot shower or a catnap will sober you up. The only thing that is truly effective in lowering a BAC level is time. If you’re over the limit, it takes at least six hours, after you stop drinking, for your body to get rid of all the alcohol.What should you know about cannabis and driving?

With its relatively recent legalization, there’s a lot of research underway about the effects of cannabis on driving. Past studies show that cannabis can have a negative impact on driving, including reduced concentration and attention span, slower reaction time and an altered perception of time and distance.

MADD Canada reports that experts suggest waiting a minimum of four to six hours after cannabis use before driving. People who aren’t used to consuming cannabis and anyone who has combined cannabis with other drugs or alcohol should wait even longer before driving.

If police have reasonable suspicion that a driver has drugs in his or her body, they can demand the driver complete a standardized field sobriety test or provide an oral fluid sample. This is done at the roadside. If the driver fails this test, police have the grounds to demand a second, more sophisticated test. Failure of the secondary testing process provides grounds to lay a Criminal Code impaired driving charge.

For more in-depth information about cannabis and driving, please visit MADD Canada.

Aviva’s commitment

Aviva is a proud partner of MADD Canada. Their impaired driving campaign aligns with our Take Back our Roads platform, which aims to reduce injuries and fatalities on Canadian roads. We believe that the more we know about the effects of alcohol and cannabis – and the consequences for getting behind the wheel after using them – will help everyone make better driving decisions.

The content in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as professional or expert advice.