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Many Canadians were thrilled with the legalization of cannabis in October 2018. However, this legalization does not permit a driver to take the wheel if his or her faculties are impaired by the substance.

As a result, at a roadside checkpoint or elsewhere, and if there are reasonable doubts, a police officer may ask you to undergo a cannabis test. What are these tests and how does cannabis testing work when driving?

Cannabis, driving a motor vehicle and screening tests

Many drugs can affect an individual’s ability to drive. Cannabis is one of them. Several studies show that cannabis can have a negative impact on driving. Among other things, this drug is known to reduce a driver’s concentration and attention span. Moreover, it reduces your reaction time and alters your perception of time and distance. Drivers who smoke and drive are also slower to react to unexpected events, such as a pedestrian running into the road. It is well known that mixing cannabis with alcohol significantly affects a person’s driving skills.

The three screening tests used to detect cannabis in a driver

Impaired driving applies to all modes of transportation. If a police officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that you have been impaired within three hours of your driving, he or she may ask you to undergo a screening test. There are three such tests. First, the police officer may ask you to provide a breath sample on the roadside using an approved screening device (ASD). Second, he or she may also ask you to provide a breath sample, also on the roadside, this time using an approved saliva test device (ATSA). Third, the peace officer may ask you to take the standardized sobriety test (SFST), which consists of several steps. Based on the officer’s observations, charges may be laid against you under article 320.14 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Failure or refusal to submit to any of these tests may result in criminal charges being laid that are equivalent to or greater than those for impaired driving.

Screening test reliability

Cannabis can remain in your system for some time after use. While this is true, THC screening devices used by roadside police officers are set at a threshold of 25 nanograms, which is significantly higher than the legal limits allowed. Setting these screening devices at such a high level ensures that only drivers who have recently used cannabis fail this test.

Cannabis driving tests: how to protect your rights

It is difficult to say how long after smoking cannabis someone can drive without posing a risk to himself or others. Experts suggest waiting at least four hours, but many criteria must be taken into consideration. The safest option, however, is the one that totally separates cannabis use from driving. In short, if you drive, do not smoke cannabis or you may being subjected to one of the many screening tests mentioned above.

To learn more about impaired driving or to speak to one of our excellent criminal lawyers, contact DUI Montreal Lawyer.