In Canada, impaired driving is a criminal offence. A person canbe convicted when there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt ofimpairment. Evidence can include: not driving in a straightline,driving too slow or too fast, not able to perform simple taskswhen asked to do so by a police officer, blood shot eyes, slurredspeech, smell of alcohol on the breath, failing the breathalysertest, and a blood alcohol level above the ‘legal limit. When oneis convicted of impaired driving, there are serious consequences.
The Criminal Code sets minimum penalties that the judge mustimpose for the offences of impaired driving, refusing to provide ablood or breath sample without a lawful excuse, and driving witha blood alcohol content ‘over 80.’ As well, the judge can handdown other penalties.
The minimum punishment for driving while impaired in Canada includes: First Offence: Fine of at least $600, prohibition from driving for at least 1 year and up to 3 years. Second Offence: At least 14 days in prison, prohibition from driving for at least 2 years and up to 5 years. Subsequent Offences: At least 90 days in prison, prohibition from driving for at least 3 years and up to a lifetime ban.
There are provinces where a judge can reduce the time afirst offender is prohibited from driving if the offenderparticipates in an alcohol ignition interlock program. Thisis when a driver can’t start or run a vehicle unless he orshe provides a breath sample that is acceptable. Beforestarting the vehicle, one must blow into the device. Ifalcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start.
If you are convicted of impaired driving, you will have acriminal record. You picture and fingerprints will be heldby the RCMP in Ottawa. If the police check your record,your criminal record will always be displayed. A criminalrecord could restrict your travel, put your job in jeopardy,or prevent you from getting a specific job.
An impaired driving conviction will cause your car insurancepremiums to drastically increase, or you could be dropped byyour insurance carrier. You can also have your driver’s licensesuspended which could affect your job. The suspension may alsoresult in an imposition of an insurance surcharge. In Ontario,drivers convicted of impaired driving offences must complete aremedial program at a cost of nearly $600.00 before licencereinstatement.
When an impaired driver injures a person, the driver can becharged with impaired driving causing bodily harm. Impaireddriving causing bodily harm is an indictable offence with amaximum punishment of 10 years in prison. When animpaired driver causes the death of a person, the driver can becharged with impaired driving causing death. This is anindictable offence with a maximum punishment of lifeimprisonment.
As you can see, impaired driving is a criminal offence withserious consequences. The best decision is to avoid drivingwhile impaired. If charged with impaired driving, it is criticalto seek legal counsel because of the serious consequences of aconviction.