It is no mystery why Ontario law enforcement and safety advocates urge drivers to stay off the road after they have been using any substances that may result in impairment. Driving under the influence of drugs, even certain prescription drugs, raises the possibility that you will be involved in a motor vehicle accident that could cause you or others to suffer serious or fatal injuries. For this reason, if the police pull you over under suspicion that you have been taking drugs, your options may be limited.
An arrest and conviction for driving under the influence of drugs can have a devastating effect on your future. Your professional license, your career and your opportunities are at risk. It is important that you know your rights and take every precaution to protect them as the police gather evidence during a traffic stop.
Your rights are at risk
If the police suspect you of being under the influence of drugs while driving, they will likely ask you to step out of your vehicle and submit to Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. These physical challenges, such as walking in a straight line or balancing on one leg, test your steadiness and coordination. You have several important things to remember at this time:
- You may not refuse to cooperate when asked to perform a SFST without risking charges of failing to comply with police demands.
- You may not speak with your lawyer before submitting to field tests.
- If officers determine you have failed the tests, they will arrest you and take you to the police station for further evaluation.
- If you request it, the police must allow you to contact your lawyer and speak with him or her privately before officers perform any further drug evaluation tests.
- It is in your best interests not to speak to anyone until your lawyer arrives to advise you.
Police officers may try to continue questioning you. However, if you politely respond that you are waiting for legal counsel and do not wish to make any statements, that should be enough to end these attempts. Your silence and careful observation of the actions of police from the first moments of your encounter will be helpful in building a case for the defence of your rights.
The implications that follow a conviction for driving while impaired by drugs can be far-reaching, affecting your professional, personal and financial lives. While every case is unique and the outcomes unpredictable, the best chances for a positive resolution include a strong criminal defence strategy.