There have been a lot of impaired driving arrests in Toronto recently, but they aren’t all alcohol-related. Toronto police have released data from last year and it shows that people are still driving under the influence, but they’re driving high more often than they are driving drunk.
Police found that impaired driving by drug charges in the city of Toronto were up 150 per cent from the same time last year. It’s only May but they have arrested 25 drugged drivers so far this year compared to ten at the same time last year.
In comparison to drunk driving in Toronto, police are seeing a drop in arrests. They stopped 431 people for impaired driving so far this year, but only 464 at this time last year.
Toronto police feel as though this change may be because drivers who drive high are harder to stop. Police do have a set protocol to determine drugged driving, and that can include field sobriety tests and blood work to confirm the presence of drugs. But people also know that when a driver is stopped because they are drinking alcohol, police officers will use a breathalyzer to instantly determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Because there is no breathalyzer for drugs, they may feel they’ll have an easier time getting off.
Put that together with the fact that when a person is stopped on suspicion of driving high, the penalties aren’t quite the same as if the arrest was alcohol-related. Right now someone stopped for impaired driving by drug will receive criminal charges but they won’t automatically lose their driver’s license like they would for drunk driving. This is slated to change this fall as impaired driving by drug laws are upgraded to match standard impaired driving laws in Ontario.
Driving under the influence of anything, whether that’s drugs or alcohol, is dangerous. Let’s hope it doesn’t take a big spike in Ontario impaired driving by drug crashes for people to realize that.