Drug Impaired Driving

Driving while under the influence of drugs is recognized as a significant road safety concern. There is evidence that the use of several classes of drugs is associated with an elevated risk of vehicle crashes, that drug impaired driving is increasing among Canadians, and that many people, especially young people, are unaware of the potential  risks of driving after the use of certain drugs.

With the impending legalization of recreational cannabis, the Province of Manitoba has determined that finding solutions to address driving under the influence of drugs in general (and of cannabis in particular) as a major provincial priority. To  this end Manitoba Public Insurance is embarking upon a number of strategies which will include encouraging drivers to discuss with their health care providers the effects that their medications may have on driving performance.

Manitoba Public Insurance has updated its Health Care Professional website with information about drugs and driving. The following points are highlighted:

  • Driving while impaired by drugs is a criminal offence in Canada, whether the drugs are prescribed, over the counter medications, or recreational or illicit  drugs.
  • Many drugs, whether used alone or in combination with others, can affect driving performance and patients should be advised accordingly.
  • The effects of cannabis on driving typically last 3-6 hours but can persist for up to 24  hours.
  • The College of Family Physicians of Canada’s Preliminary Guidance Document on dried cannabis, released in September, 2014, recommends that cannabis users should be advised to not drive for 4 hours after inhalation, for 6 hours after ingestion, or for 8 hours if euphoria is experienced, regardless of the route of
  • The national (and Manitoba) medical standard for drivers states that an individual with moderate to severe substance use disorder, as defined by DSM-5, is prohibited from holding any class of licence unless the condition is in remission.
  • Section 157(1) of the Manitoba Highway Traffic Act stipulates that reporting of medically unfit drivers is mandatory for physicians.

For further details, please refer to the Manitoba Public Insurance website for Health Care Professionals:

https://www.mpi.mb.ca/en/DL/DL/MedCondAndDrivingForHealthCareProf/Pages/Driving-Fitness-Overview.aspx

Neil Swirsky MD FRCPC, Medical Advisor, Driver Fitness, Manitoba Public Insurance