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New Blood Drug Concentration Levels
September 20, 2018
Author(s): Jeremy Dong

The law has long prohibited alcohol impaired driving. If drivers have a high enough blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”), it may be a breach of both the Criminal Code and the British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act.

Until recently, there were no similar blood concentration limits for drug impaired driving. However, in June 2018, in advance of the legalization and regulation of marijuana, the Government implemented new criminal offences with respect to drug impaired driving in An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (the “Act”).

Employers will be interested to know that the Act prohibits individuals from having certain levels of impairing drugs in their blood within two hours of driving and sets out the legal limits for the blood drug concentration (“BDC”) levels for particular drugs. The Act introduced the following three new criminal offences for driving while impaired due to drugs or alcohol or a combination of both:

(1) a summary conviction offence for a low BDC;

(2) a hybrid offence for a higher BDC; and

(3) a hybrid offence for a combination of low BAC and low BDC.

The Blood Drug Concentration Regulations establish the following BDC levels and offences:

  • A summary conviction offence for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis) level between 2 nanograms (ng) and 5 ng per mL of blood may result in a maximum fine of $1,000.
  • A hybrid offence for a higher BDC includes a THC level over 5 ng per milliliter of blood or any detectable levels of Cocaine, Methamphetamine (Meth), Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), 6-monoacetylmorphine (a metabolite of heroin), Phencyclidine (PCP), Psilocybin/Psilocin (magic mushrooms) and Ketamine. A hybrid offence can also be a combination of a low BAC (50 mg of alcohol per 100mL of blood) and a low BDC (2.5 ng of THC per mL of blood). The penalties for either type of hybrid offence are as follows:
    • First offence: Mandatory penalties of $1, 000;
    • Second offence: 30 days imprisonment; and
    • Third offence: 120 days imprisonment.

The criminal offences apply to the operation of motor vehicles, vessels (boats), aircraft and railway equipment.

The full text of the Act can be read here and the Blood Drug Concentration Regulations can be read here.

Questions relating to the content of the article may be directed to Scott McCann.