New impaired driving laws could see visitors expelled from Canada

Published: November 6, 2018



Last month, the federal government legalized the consumption, growth, and storing of marijuana for recreational purposes. The Cannabis Act came into effect on Oct. 17, but the changes caused by the law are ongoing. Not least stricter penalties for impaired driving, which the government warns could see non-residents removed from Canada.

From December 18, Canada will embrace new tougher impaired driving laws. The government wants to clamp down on impaired motorists, especially those drug-driving following marijuana legalization. For newcomers to Canada, the penalty for being caught high or drunk behind the wheel could be severe.

If charged with impaired driving, temporary residents, permanent residents from another country, tourists, and refugee claimants could be removed from Canada. The maximum impaired driving penalty has been increased from 5 years to 10 years.

“The impact of these new penalties on permanent and temporary residents could be significant,” the Immigration Department warns in a statement.


Accoridng to a report from The Star, impaired driving penalties and other pot-related punishments could lead to:

  • Permanent residents may be expelled from the country and will lose their Canadian status
  • Visitors, foreign workers, and international students may be removed from the country. Additionally, if they already have a similar offence in another country, they may not be allowed to enter Canada.
  • Refugee claims may not be validated if they have been charged with impaired driving or another cannabis-related offence.

“Our main message to permanent residents and temporary residents is — make sure you know and follow our laws, including our tough new rules for cannabis-related crimes and impaired driving. If you don’t, you could face serious legal and immigration consequences,” said Mathieu Genest, a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.

“These penalties will have significant impacts on Canadians and non-Canadians alike.”

To help ensure these penalties are effective, Canadian police forces are cracking down on impaired driving offences. The Government of Canada (RCMP) says officers can demand the following steps if they suspect impaired driving:

  • provide a sample of your breath, at roadside, on an Approved Screening Device
  • provide an oral fluid sample, at roadside, on approved drug screening equipment
  • participate in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing