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Driving Traffic Offences

There are serious consequences for people who drive after drinking or taking drugs. In some case having any amount of drugs or alcohol in your system when you drive is a violation. In other cases having an amount in your system that is well below what would qualify as a criminal offence is still a violation of provincial laws.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

Blood alcohol content (BAC) is one method used to determine whether a driver has been drinking. The amount of alcohol in your blood can be detected through breath tests. Roadside breath tests will generally indicate a pass / warning / fail result. On the other hand, breathalyzer machines are calibrated to indicate a precise blood-alcohol reading expressed as a percentage. For example, a BAC of .04% means that you have 40 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood.

Zero Tolerance for New Drivers

It is against the law for new drivers or drivers 21 years of age or younger to drive after drinking any amount of alcohol or taking any drugs. The term new driver includes:

  • A driver with a learner’s licence.
  • A driver who is in the Graduated Driver’s Licensing (GDL) program.
  • A motorcycle driver with a motorcycle learner’s licence.
  • A motorcycle driver who has not graduated to a full and unrestricted motorcycle licence.
  • A driver who has not held a licence in the past five years.
  • A driver with a restricted or provisional licence.

The GDL program lasts for a minimum of 18 months after someone first receives their driver’s licence. Driving suspensions, traffic tickets and at-fault collisions will extend the time a new driver is in the program.

Research shows that driving is still a significant cognitive task for new drivers and even low levels of alcohol or other drugs can produce a marked impairment. According to MADD, traffic collisions are the single largest cause of death among 15-24 year olds and alcohol and/or drug impairment is a factor in over half of those collisions.

.04 Alcohol Limit & Zero Tolerance for Drugs for Experienced Drivers

It is against the law for experienced drivers to drive with a blood alcohol level of .04 or higher or with any amount of drugs in their system.

Blood alcohol levels well below .08 have predictable negative effects on people’s ability to drive. A blood alcohol content as low as .02 results in a decline of your ability to track a moving target, such as other cars or pedestrians and a decline in your ability to divide your attention between two tasks. If your blood alcohol reaches .05 you will also have reduced coordination, difficulty steering and a reduced ability to respond to an emergency situation.

The ABCs of BACs ~ MADD (Mothers against Drunk Driving)

Consequences

Although these Traffic Offences are not criminal offences there are serious consequences that increase in severity for subsequent offences.

For all the offences below, convictions within the last 10 years will be considered in determining if it is a 1st, 2nd, 3rd or subsequent offence.

Suspension of Driver’s Licence

Your driver’s licence will be immediately suspended.

  • For new drivers and drivers who are 21 or younger, suspensions start at 60 days and increase for subsequent offences, up to a maximum of 18 months.
  • For experienced drivers, suspensions start at 3 days and increase for subsequent offences, up to a maximum of 90 days but if there was a passenger under the age of 16 in the car the suspensions start at 7 days and increase for subsequent offences up to a maximum of 120 days.

Vehicle Impoundment

Registered vehicle owners should ensure that individuals who drive their vehicle have a valid driver’s licence and that they will operate the vehicle responsibly. Registered owners are responsible for their vehicle even if they are not the driver.

The vehicle you were driving will be impounded.

  • Even if you are not the registered owner of the vehicle it will be impounded.
  • Impoundment starts with 3 days for a 1st offence and increases with subsequent offences – up to 14 days for experienced drivers and 7 days for new drivers.
  • For any drivers, if there was a passenger under 16 in the car impoundment starts at 7 days for a first offence and increases for subsequent offences up to 60 days.
  • The registered owner will be responsible for towing and storage costs, but could start a court action to recover those costs from the driver in situations where the owner and driver are not the same individual.

Mandatory Impaired Driving Education

You must take an Impaired Driving Education Program and pay the fee for the program.

  • For a 1st offence the Driving without Impairment (DWI) Program is required to be completed within 120 days.
  • For a 2nd offence the Alcohol and Drug Education Program is required to be completed within 120 days.
  • For a 3rd offence Addiction Assessment is required and you must comply with any recommendations from your counsellor before your driver’s licence can be reinstated.
  • You must pay a registration fee to enrol in each of these programs.

Mandatory Ignition Interlock for Repeat Offenders

Ignition Interlock requires drivers to provide a breath sample before the vehicle will start and will prevent the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected. It also requires and records random breath samples while the vehicle is running. You will be responsible for installation and maintenance costs.

Repeat offenders must install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle they drive.

  • Drivers who receive a 3rd or subsequent roadside suspension must have an ignition interlock installed on their vehicle for one year.
  • The Ignition Interlock Program (IIP) allows for early reinstatement of driving privileges – experienced drivers cannot have it installed until they have served 90 days of their driving suspension; new drivers and drivers who are 21 or under cannot have it installed until they have served 12 months of their 18 month suspension.
  • Under these circumstances the program is mandatory – a driver’s licence with full driving privileges will not be issued following a licence suspension until the device is installed and is in place for at least 365 days.

Voluntary Ignition Interlock

  • New drivers with a second roadside suspension can voluntarily have ignition interlock installed so they can drive after serving 60 days of their 120 day roadside suspension.
  • If you choose to install ignition interlock it must be installed for the 120 days regardless of when your suspension ends.

Loss of Safe Driver Recognition Points

You will lose Safe Driver Recognition points.

  • You may have to pay a penalty depending on your current safety rating.

Under the Safe Driver Recognition Program (SDR) drivers lose points depending on their driving record every time they are convicted of a traffic offence or are responsible for a collision. Driver’s enter the penalty zone if their rating is below zero and must then pay $50 for every negative point to a maximum of $1,000 for provincial traffic offences.

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