Increased rates of impaired driving looming concern as marijuana legalization date nears in Canada

A deadly car crash in Mississauga that occurred early Saturday morning left a 31-year-old male dead. The crash took place around 4:30 a.m. when a blue Infiniti G35 was traveling southbound on Central Parkway East, near Eglinton Avenue East. After the vehicle slammed into a light post, the 21-year-old driver who sustained non-life threatening injuries was evacuated to the hospital, but the passenger was pronounced dead at the scene. Police arrested the driver after it was discovered that his blood alcohol level was higher than the legal limit at the time of the collision.

Although recent data show that impaired driving rates in Canada are at a record low, driving while under the influence is still a critical issue, according to the non-profit organization, MADD Canada(Mothers Against Drunk Driving). Impaired driving means that the “driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was at least slightly impaired by alcohol (or a drug, or a combination of both),” according to expert Toronto criminal lawyers

In Canada, it is not only alcohol that is problematic, but also the use of drugs prior to or while driving, and the figures are only expected to rise with the upcoming legalization of marijuana. The number of car accident deaths related to alcohol alone hovers around 13 percent, while 26.9 percent involve drugs, and 15.5 percent are attributed to a combination of the two. In Ontario, 10.2 percent of accidents ending in a death involved alcohol use, 31.6 drug use, and 12 percent involved the use of both.

While the legalization of marijuana is still two months away, data from a new Statistics Canada survey indicates that an “alarming” number of Canadians have already operated a vehicle while high, or alternatively, have been passengers with a high driver. Additionally, 14 percent of marijuana users reported that they had driven a car within two hours of using the drug at least one time over the past three months. These figures are more than three times the number of Canadians who admitted to driving within two hours of drinking alcohol, according to MADD Canada.