Impaired driving, which means driving while your ability is affected by alcohol or drugs, is a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada. If convicted, you can lose your licence, be fined, or spend time in jail. Your vehicle does not even have to be moving; you can be charged if you are impaired behind the wheel, even if you have not started to drive.
Drinking and driving is a deadly combination. One drink can reduce your ability to concentrate and react to things that happen suddenly while you are driving. The more alcohol in your blood, the more difficulty you have judging distances and reacting to sudden hazards on the road. To make matters worse, your vision may be blurred.
Any drug that changes your mood, or the way you see and feel, will affect the way you drive. This is not only true for illegal drugs, but also for some prescription and over-the-counter drugs that may impair your driving ability.
Tips to remember
Roadside Licence Suspension
Fully-licenced drivers will face immediate roadside licence suspension for:
Drivers who register a blood alcohol concentration from 0.05 to 0.08 from (known as the “warn range”) lose their licence at roadside for 3, 7 or 30 days. Consequences also get tougher for repeat occurrences. Novice drivers in the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) must maintain a zero BAC while driving or face an immediate suspension at roadside, a 30 day licence suspension and a fine upon conviction. Consequences for impaired driving are serious: you can lose your licence, be fined, or spend time in jail. You don’t have to be over the Criminal Code blood alcohol limit of 0.08 to face serious consequences.
If you drive impaired, and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is more than 0.08, or you fail or refuse to comply with alcohol or drug testing, you can be convicted under the Criminal Code. Individuals convicted for impaired driving offences face penalties under the Canada’s Criminal Code and Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act. Upon conviction, consequences include additional suspension period, alcohol education or treatment programs, Ignition Interlock Program and fines. Driving-related Criminal Code convictions remain on a driver’s record for at least 10 years.
In Ontario, drivers who are caught driving while their licence is suspended for a Criminal Code driving conviction will have the vehicle they are driving impounded for a minimum of 45 days. Regardless of whether the vehicle is rented, leased or on loan, the vehicle will be impounded. The vehicle owner will be liable for all towing and impoundment costs.