Drunk Driving vs. Driving High in Canada and the USA

high vs high driving

The following guest post was written by my friends over at OMQ law firm. Make sure to check out their awesome infographic at the bottom of the article. 

**MaryJanesDiary.com does not condone driving while high. Please use a designated driver if you must travel under the influence.**

The cause of almost a third of all car crashes in the USA and Canada is drunk driving. But, with marijuana legalization occurring all over the world and with Canada currently joining in on the movement, driving under the influence of marijuana is becoming a more common issue among users. So, how will Canada solve drug impaired driving? Can the US experience serve as a guideline?

Alcohol and Driving

Driving with a BAC (blood alcohol content) level over 0.08% is a criminal offense in both Canada and the USA. Although one amount of alcohol does not impact every person the same, it is highly dangerous and punishable by law to drive under the influence of it. The statistics are quite disturbing as every 53 minutes in the USA a person dies in a car crash involved with a drunk driver. Although, measuring alcohol in the blood by breathalyzer is a precise and very reliable technique, it’s a completely different story when it comes to drugs.

Canada Legalizing Marijuana?

When it comes to drugs there are differences in laws and regulations in those countries. Since marijuana is the second most frequent substance found in drivers involved in car crashes after alcohol, legal systems of many countries are experiencing difficulties with regulating the drug. Canada is expecting a big change next year – legalizing marijuana for non-medical use. On average, seven out of ten Canadians support the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes and the new Liberal government is taking one step at the time to finish Federal legislation by spring 2017.

However, there are still many aspects to regulate and consider, like driving and marijuana usage. The whole process of legalization is very complex. In fact, drug-impaired driving has become just as common as driving while drunk. And the Canadian government needs to decide how to deal the problem. Before next spring, Canada will need to implement reliable methods of testing standards, precise laws, and regulations.

Lessons From the US States

Five US states have already gone through the process. In the past few years, Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington DC have made marijuana legal for recreational use. Perhaps, their laws, regulations, and practices are not perfect, but it can serve as an example of how it can be done.

For instance, in Colorado,you are allowed to drive with five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, but still, over 70% of drivers arrested for DUI had a higher level than the limit. However, police officers all over the USA are having troubles determining the level of marijuana in a person’s blood and are currently testing roadside oral fluid drug screening devices. Most notably, since the state of Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use, DUI arrests dropped in 2015, but the arrests for driving high are still climbing. Certainly, these US driving laws can serve as an example to Canada on creating their own laws for drug-impaired driving.

Drunk Driving Vs. High Driving [Infographic]

What is the difference between Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol and drugs? What are the penalties for marijuana possession and drunk driving in Canada and the USA? How are the levels of alcohol and drugs are measured? Is it safer to drive under the influence of marijuana than under the influence of alcohol? What can we expect from Canada from the marijuana legalization process?

drunk driving vs high driving


  • Darius says:

    I see a lot of bad driving throughout the day, i wish we all chose better times to do our preferred drug- like after our errands..and if we want to have a good time out pay for a party bus/cab/uber

  • Levi says:

    A friend of mine was pulled over and passed a SFST. The officer still had suspicion though, so he was sent for blood work on his own bill which he agreed to.

    He was convicted of DWI despite having virtually no THC in his system. He hadn’t smoked for over 48 hours.

    Do other states (this was in western Pennsylvania) have similar problems? I don’t see how you’re still impaired from smoking days ago, or how that could ever actually hold up in court unless the judge is completely ignorant of the drug.

    • Mary Jane says:

      Yes, this is a huge problem everywhere. For instance, a habitual medical smoker may actually never have their system clean enough despite the fact that they may be totally sober. The problem is, they want to treat THC tests like breathalyzers, but it just doesn’t work that way.

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