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Drugs and Driving

All drugs – cannabis, hashish, speed, cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms, etc. – can be detected. Drugs act on the brain and their effects are incompatible with driving. If you take drugs, don’t drive!

Drugs and driving – it's criminal

Just like with alcohol, driving while impaired by drugs is a criminal act.

Police officers are trained to detect drivers who are “high”

With the techniques now available, Québec police officers have the necessary means to detect people driving under the influence of any drugs and place them under arrest.

Red eyes? Eye drops won't work!

Eye drops may reduce the redness in your eyes, but they won't fool a police officer who is trained to recognize drivers who have taken drugs of any type! You may show other signs of intoxication, even if you think that they have worn off.

A few of the techniques used by police officers to check whether you have drugs in your system

If a police officer suspects that you have drugs in your system (cannabis or any other drug), you may be required to submit to physical coordination tests or take a saliva test.  It will be possible to use saliva tests once they have been approved and become available. These tests are carried out on the side of the road.

Failing these tests is enough for a police officer to arrest you and bring you to the police station for further tests.

Physical coordination tests… on the side of the road

There are 3 physical coordination tests:

  • Eye movement test (following a pen)
  • Walking test (walk-and-turn test)
  • Balance test (one-leg stand test)

After taking drugs, these tests, which may appear easy, are difficult to pass.

Drug recognition experts… at the police station

If you fail the physical coordination tests or saliva test, you may be required to pass other tests administered by a police officer who is a drug recognition expert (evaluating officer) at the police station. This officer will examine:

  • your pulse, your body temperature and your blood pressure
  • your eyes, in particular the size of your pupils
  • the insides of your nostrils and mouth
  • your muscle tone: depending on the drug that was consumed, a person's muscles may be either more contracted or more relaxed
  • your arms and neck, in order to find any possible injection sites

You will also be required to provide a urine or blood sample.

Blood tests

The police officer may simply require you to provide a blood sample without having you undergo the other tests.

What happens next?

If the tests reveal that you are impaired by drugs (whether or not in combination with alcohol), or that you have a blood drug concentration that is equal to or above the concentration prescribed by federal regulation, the results will be sent to the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP). You may then be charged under the Criminal Code.

Alcohol and drugs: an explosive mix!

Combining drugs with alcohol multiplies the effects of each substance and the risk of causing a traffic accident.

The effects of drugs are variable and unpredictable

They can change from one time to another or from one person to another. Sometimes, the person does not even realize his or her faculties are impaired.

Yet, depending on the type of drug, the symptoms can include:

  • drowsiness
  • slower reaction time
  • vision problems
  • decreased ability to deal with the unexpected
  • aggressiveness, recklessness, risk-taking

You think you have a foolproof trick?

Destroy the myths and lies!

Driving while “high” on drugs? Find alternative solutions instead.

  • use public transit
  • call your parents
  • call a taxi or rideshare service
  • think about drive-home services
  • choose a designated driver
  • sleep over at a friend's house

Last update: May 17, 2022