Impaired driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, is illegal in Canada. It:
1) Is punishable as a criminal office under Section 253 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
2) Can also result in administrative driver's license suspensions under provincial legislations.
What are the federal minimum sentences for a person convicted of impaired driving/driving under influence?
According to Section 255 of the Criminal Code of Canada, the federal minimum sentences for impaired driving/driving under influence (with a BAC level of above 0.08) are:
- for a first offence, to a fine of not less than $1,000
- for a second offence, to imprisonment for not less than 30 days
- for each subsequent offence, to imprisonment for not less than 120 days
- 1st offence - 3 months after the day on which sentence is imposed
- 2nd offence - 6 months after the day on which sentence is imposed
- each subsequent offence - 12 months after the day on which sentence is imposed
- First offense: One year
- Second Offense: Two years
- Third Offense: Three years
What are the license suspensions for a person convicted of impaired driving/driving under influence?
|Province||1st Offence||2nd Offence||3rd Offence||Subsequent Offences|
|Alberta||until criminal charge resolved||until criminal charge resolved||until criminal charge resolved||until criminal charge resolved|
|British Columbia||90 days||90 days||90 days||90 days|
|Manitoba||1 year||5 years||10 years||lifetime suspension|
|New Brunswick||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||1 year||3 years||5 years||Lifetime suspension|
|Nova Scotia||1 year||3 years||Indefinitely||Indefinitely|
|Ontario||1 year||3 years||Indefinitely||Indefinitely|
|Prince Edward Island||1 year||3 years||5 years||5 years|
|Quebec||1 year||3 years||5 years||5 years|
|Saskatchewan||1 year||3 years||5 years||5 years|
|Northwest Territories / Nunavut||1 year||3 years||5 years||Indefinitely|
|Yukon||1 year||3 years||Indefinitely||Indefinitely|
How much alcohol can I drink before reaching the BAC limit?
A person's blood alcohol levels can be affected by a variety of factors, including weight, sex, and body fat. The number of drinks consumed is often a poor measure of blood alcohol content.
The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit set forth in the Criminal Code of Canada is 0.08. It is a criminal offence to either operate a motor vehicle, vessle, railway equipment or aircraft (cars, boats, trains and airplanes) with a blood alcohol concentration above this federal limit.
In addition, the BAC limit for license suspension varies by province. In Alberta, Quebec and Yukon, the limit is the same as the federal limit. In Saskatchewan, the limit is 0.04. In all other provinces, the limit is 0.05. A person may be subject to license suspension if their blood alcohol concentration reaches above a limit set forth by the province, even if it is below the threshold for a criminal offence.
What if I refuse to provide a breath sample or engage in a field sobriety test?
It is a criminal office to refuse to comply with a police officer's request for a breath sample or a field sobriety test, according to Section 254 (5) of the Criminal Code of Canada. The exception is when the driver has a “reasonable excuse”.
What are the impaired driving/drunk driving laws and programs in my province?