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Sudbury woman lucks out after SUV reeking of weed lands her in hot water

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Woman pleads to lesser charge of careless driving

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It was tough for officers carrying out a Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere (RIDE) check in the Val Caron, Ont. area, not far from Sudbury, to sniff out that something was up with a driver whose vehicle reeked of weed.

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The incident involving the Buick SUV occurred on Jan. 16, 2021, according to the Sudbury Star. Officers reported the driver stopped on the other side of a bridge, close to where the RIDE check was being done, and began to flick its headlights before moving forward, with some apparent difficulty.

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Upon reaching the officers, the driver opened her window and the police report officers were met by a strong cannabis smell.

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  2. Officers with the Strathmore detachment located the vehicle on Dec. 29 parked on a rural road Wheatland County.

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The woman, now 45, was found to have cannabis in her system and was subsequently charged with impaired driving.

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When adult-use cannabis was legalized in October 2018, federal regulations spelled out the prohibited blood drug concentrations that would apply.

For THC and its related penalties, information from the federal government notes a straight summary conviction offence applies if THC per millilitre (ml) of blood is at or over 2 nanograms (ng), but less than 5 ng. The drug-alone hybrid offence applies if the THC per ml of blood is over 5 ng.

For a first offence, the minimum penalty for drug-impaired driving is a $1,000 fine and the maximum is 10 years’ imprisonment, the federal government reports.

As for the Ontario government, it notes that if police determine a driver is impaired, that person can face immediate licence suspensions, fines and reinstatement fees, enrollment into education or treatment programs, vehicle impoundment and harsher penalties upon conviction.

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In Sudbury court this week, however, prosecution and defence agreed to drop the impaired driving charge and, instead, have the woman pleaded guilty to careless driving.

Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act notes a person is guilty of careless driving if he or she “drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway.”

The assistant Crown attorney noted having cannabis in her system met the criteria for the charge, per the Sudbury Star, who reported the woman told the court she was sorry and that the same thing would not happen again.

The woman was handed a $1,000 fine and one year of probation, which carries with it the need to undergo substance abuse counselling and not drive with non-prescribed drugs in her system.

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The justice noted that the woman should realize she was “and the fact that nobody got hurt, including yourself,” adding that with the plea agreement, “you are definitely getting a break and learned a lesson.”

The woman was hardly the first driver (or passenger) to be busted during RIDE checks. In May of 2022, an Ontario driver who opted out of the mandatory stop by fleeing the scene was quickly caught along with the 2,000 cannabis plants that were inside his vehicle.

A couple of months earlier, two Ontario residents were charged after a traffic stop led to the seizure of drugs and cash. A vehicle search led to the discovery of small quantities of suspected cannabis and cocaine, as well as a whole lot of cash, namely over $67,000.

And last summer, a 26-year-old man from Brampton, Ont. was charged with four offences after officers seized more than 350 grams of cannabis and $6,000 cash.

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