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) 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Your driver’s licence will be immediately suspended.
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.
You must take an Impaired Driving Education Program and pay the fee for the program.
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.
You will lose Safe Driver Recognition points.
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.