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Personal injury cases affected by drug-impaired driving uncertainty

Questions remain about the drug-impaired driving regime now that the federal government has released its plan for the legalization of marijuana, says Ottawa personal injury lawyer Victoria Boddy

Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, governs the use and sale of marijuana for recreational use, while its partner, bill C-46, proposes an overhaul of the country’s impaired driving laws.

C-46 creates three new offences for drivers with specific levels of drugs in their system within two hours of driving and allows police to demand saliva samples from those suspected of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs.

However, some have raised concerns about the reliability of detection technology for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

“It’ll be interesting to see how police test at a roadside stop for impairment, and whether they'll have a tougher time proving people are high compared with showing someone's drunk,” Boddy tells

Boddy, an associate at Yegendorf & Associates, says that could have a knock-on effect for personal injury cases involving alleged impairment where liability remains a live issue.

“We see drunk-driving cases much more than drugged-driving ones. If a driver was operating while high or intoxicated, that goes to their negligence, which would be helpful to plaintiffs in terms of liability,” Boddy says.

“When you go to an examination, you always ask questions of the defendant, such as when was the last time they had a drink, and whether they were taking any prescription drugs or illegal drugs. Usually, the answer is no, and unless the police have reported it, you’re relying on the defendant to admit they were high or drunk.”

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