TORONTO, Ont. – Commercial vehicle drivers in Ontario must have no blood drug content when operating their vehicles, according to changes to the province’s Highway Traffic Act.
Changes to the Act address the issues of impaired driving, distracted driving and vulnerable road user safety, and are effective July 1.
Starting July 1, drivers of commercial vehicles must have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of zero – which is measured at 0.02 – and equivalent blood drug content (BDC) as detected by an oral fluid screening device when driving a commercial vehicle. If a commercial driver has alcohol in their system (above 0.02 BAC), they will face serious penalties, including licence suspensions and administrative monetary penalties.
With the federal government’s intentions to legalize cannabis, zero tolerance drug sanctions will also be effective starting July 1. However, the zero tolerance drug sanctions will not be enforced until the Federal Minister of Justice approves and authorizes the use of an approved drug screening equipment, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) points out.
Medial cannabis users may be exempted from zero tolerance sanctions if a police officer is satisfied they are legally authorized to use drugs for medical purposes. However, these drivers can still face penalties or criminal charges if a police officer determines their ability to drive has been impaired.
The OTA said it will request the incoming Minister of Transportation revisit the exemptions to the zero tolerance policy for those prescribed medical marijuana.
“OTA does not believe there should be any exemptions for cannabis containing THC (the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis) regardless of whether it’s for medical or recreational use,” the association said in a release.