Impaired driving is dangerous and against the law. It can result in injury or death. If you are caught driving impaired in Nova Scotia, you will face strong penalties. You can lose your licence, go to jail, and have a criminal record.
Never drive high
Cannabis impairs your balance, coordination, motor skills, attention, judgment, reaction time and decision-making. When you feel the effects and how long they last can vary depending on how you consume cannabis. Never drive impaired. Have a designated driver, call a friend or loved one, take a cab or public transit, or spend the night where you are.
Cannabis use of any kind in vehicles is prohibited
Drivers cannot be impaired while operating a vehicle. This includes medical cannabis users and applies to all motorized vehicles including boats. Cannabis in any form cannot be used by passengers or drivers. You may be fined up to $2,000 for consumption in a vehicle.
What to expect if you’re stopped by a police officer
If you are suspected of impaired driving, you may be required to undergo a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). This involves coordination tests in combination with previously observed driving evidence. If you fail the SFST, a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE officer) may conduct additional tests at a secondary location to determine if you are impaired.
After completing an SFST, if an officer believes they have grounds to lay a charge of impaired driving, your driver’s licence is immediately suspended for 24 hours. You must provide a bodily fluid sample and a charge for impaired driving is pending, subject to the results. If the results confirm impairment under the Criminal Code, a charge is laid and your licence is suspended for 90 days.
Impaired driving is a serious offence with serious penalties
If you’re convicted of impaired driving, the following penalties will apply:
- first offence – fine of not less than $1,000 and a one-year licence suspension
- second offence (within 10-year period) – imprisonment of up to 30 days and a three-year licence suspension
- third offence (within 10-year period) – imprisonment of up to 120 days and a five-year licence suspension
- fourth offence (within 10-year period) – indefinite revocation of licence
Additional penalties may apply if there is bodily harm or death, or if a driver has frequent driving suspensions. If you’re convicted of driving impaired with a child in the vehicle, your licence will be revoked for an additional 12 months. In all cases of suspension, drivers must pay a licence reinstatement fee.
After completing an SFST, if an officer has reason to suspect you are driving under the influence of cannabis, but does not have the grounds to lay a criminal charge, they have the authority to immediately suspend your driver’s licence as follows:
- first incident – 7 days
- second incident – 15 days
- third incident – 30 days
This is a similar approach to drivers who have alcohol in their system but are below the criminal legal limit. Drivers must also pay a licence reinstatement fee.
As with alcohol, there is zero tolerance for drivers in the graduated licence program.