Impaired Driving

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.

Alcohol and Driving

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.

Drugs and Driving

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

  • If you are planning on drinking, plan not to drive.
  • Ask your doctor about side effects if you use prescription medication or get allergy shots.
  • Read the information on the package of any over-the-counter medicine, including allergy and cold remedies.
  • Drugs and alcohol together can combine to impair your driving even more. You should always ask your doctor or pharmacist about side effects of pharmaceuticals.
  • Fatigue and stress will also affect your ability to drive.

Consequences of Drinking and Driving

Roadside Licence Suspension

Fully-licenced drivers will face immediate roadside licence suspension for:

  • Refusing a breath test;
  • Registering a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 or more (50 milligrams of alcohol in every 100 millilitres of blood).

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.

Convicted Impaired Drivers

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.

Vehicle Impoundment

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.

Related Lesson Plans

Grade 9 to 12: Drinking or Driving?