Impaired driving is one of the most common causes of death in Canada, with 4 Canadians being killed as a result of impaired driving each day. The Federal Government’s new legislation, Bill C-46, attempts to address this by strengthening existing impaired driving laws, but also changes the legal landscape of claims concerning impaired driving.

In today’s post, NOVA Injury Law will be guiding Atlantic Canadians through Canada’s new drinking and driving laws and informing them how this may impact their impaired driving personal injury claims.

What are Canada’s New Impaired Driving Laws?

Bill C-46 has two primary aims. The first is to make the penalties for drunk driving stricter, and the second is to address impaired driving due to Marijuana consumption.

The first part of the bill is aimed at creating rules around impaired driving that capture more activities within it. The bill includes:

  • The creation of three new offences for having drugs in one’s blood within two hours of driving,
  • Authorizing the use of oral fluid drug screeners by police, and
  • Providing greater ability for police to collect blood samples if they have reasonable grounds to believe someone is driving while intoxicated.

The new impaired driving rules create increased penalties
where a driver has a blood alcohol level over 8 milligrams of alcohol per 100 ml of blood and where there is a child under 16 years of age in the vehicle.

Three New Offences

The three new offences created by Bill C-46 targets Marijuana users who get behind the wheel while high. The seriousness of the offence is based on the level of drugs found in one’s blood (or a combination of drugs and alcohol) within two hours of driving. In relation to THC (found in cannabis), these levels would be:

  1. Level 1: 2 nanograms (ng) but less than 5 ng of THC per millilitre (ml) of blood.
  2. Level 2: 5 ng or more of THC.
  3. Level 3: Blood alcohol concentration of 50 milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 ml of blood combined with more than 2.5 ng of THC.

Level 1 would result in an offence punishable with a fine of up to $1,000 while Levels 2 and 3 would be punishable with mandatory penalties of $1,000 for first offences, with escalating penalties for repeat offences. These penalties could include jail time.

Oral Fluid Drug Screening

Oral fluid drug screeners are devices used to determine whether a drug is present in one’s saliva. Law enforcement officers will be authorized to test saliva at legal roadside stops if they reasonably suspect that a driver has drugs in their body. A positive reading at a roadside stop would provide an officer with justification for requiring a blood sample to be taken at a police station.

What is Intoxication Under Canada’s New Laws?

The amount of cannabis or alcohol which causes impairment is different in each person. The only way to ensure your and others’ safety is to drive sober.

Under Nova Scotia’s new laws, a driver is deemed to be intoxicated in one of three ways:

  1. If they have a TCH level of 2 ng per ml of blood;
  2. If they have a blood alcohol level of 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood; or
  3. If they have blood alcohol concentration of 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood combined with more than 2.5 ng of THC per ml of blood

A driver can be deemed to have been intoxicated at the time of an accident even if the test showing these results was done up to 2 hours after the accident.

What if I am Injured by an Intoxicated Driver?

Many serious accidents are caused by intoxicated drivers. Impaired driving accidents often result in fatalities, life-changing injuries, and serious psychological impacts for victims. Being intoxicated does not excuse a driver from being responsible for an accident.

Drivers owe a duty of care to others which prevents them from driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Driving while intoxicated is a factor that can be used to show a driver’s negligence. If someone else’s negligence has caused your injury, you can sue them for damages. You have the right to pursue civil action against an intoxicated driver, even if there are criminal proceedings currently going on.

Making claims against intoxicated drivers can be complex. There can be problems of unidentified drivers, deceased drivers, or multiple vehicles being involved in a crash. A personal injury lawyer can help you to navigate all of this and hold the other side accountable for their actions.

Common Injuries from Intoxicated Driving

There are many types of injuries that may result from an accident caused by an intoxicated driver. These can range from whiplash and soft tissue injuries to broken bones. Further, there is the potential for increasingly serious injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, damage to the spinal cord which may result in paralysis, and damage to internal organs.

The psychological impact of car accidents should not be overlooked. Victims of car accidents can face severe PTSD as well as ongoing depression and anxiety. For some, driving will become a dreaded activity or something that they can no longer do.

What Damages to Seek

When you are representing yourself in a claim regarding intoxicated driving, certain costs and expenses can be overlooked which will lead to victims of impaired driving paying out large sums of money in the future. Examples of hidden expenses are:

  • Rehabilitation costs, in-home care costs, and increased living expenses;
  • Wage loss and, cost of retraining, and difficulties returning to work;
  • Continuing pain, suffering, and mental anguish;
  • Emotional difficulties resulting from the accident such as depression and PTSD; and
  • Impacts on one’s life and one’s family.

A personal injury lawyer can help you break down these hidden damages and ensure that you are correctly valuing your claim.

Get Support for Your Personal Injury Claim

Here at NOVA Injury Law, we will always put our clients first. We know car accidents can be a life-changing event that not only affects a person’s physical health but can also have an impact on their emotional and mental well-being as they try to adapt to a new lifestyle. Our mission is to ensure you have the resources and support you need to live a better life and have peace of mind about your financial status.

You can learn more about how we handle car accident claims here.

If you are in need of legal advice or representation for your personal injury claim and are
located in the Nova Scotia area, our personal injury lawyers are here to help. We also serve other areas of Atlantic Canada, including Prince Edward Island. Contact us today and tell us more about your claim – we are here to help!