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Provincial Impaired Driving Information

Impaired Driving in Canada

Canada's roads and its drivers are protected under the Highway Traffic Act. The purpose of the act is to guarantee the safety of all drivers at all times, which is why it includes provisions which limit the amount of alcohol drivers may have in their bodies.

Level of impairment is determined by blood alcohol content, or the percentage of a person's bloodstream that is alcohol. BAC can be measured by a device called a breathalyzer, which has small tube police officers can make a driver who they suspect has been drinking blow into.

The federal legal blood alcohol content for driver is 0.08; anything over that number is a criminal offense. The act covers not just vehicles on highways but also those in the air and in water.

BAC is measured by a device called a breathalyzer, which can detect one's BAC from a breath sample. Canadian federal law permits police officers to require anyone they suspect of having operated a vehicle within three hours to provide a breath sample.

Drivers do not have to be over the 0.08 limit to be charged with impaired driving if they are driving recklessly with alcohol in their system. Police officers can even charge you with impaired driving if a vehicle is in you "care or control" while your BAC is above 0.08. "Care or control" can mean sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle even if it is not on. The police have the right to arrest you if they have reasonable suspicion that you have committed any of these acts in the three hours previous to questioning.

What is the difference between a DWI, a DUI, DWAI, OUI and an Impaired Driving charge?

These charges refer to charges in various jurisdictions:

  • Impaired Driving : This is the Canadian Charge. Often referred to by one of the terms below
  • DWI : Driving while Intoxicated
  • DWAI : Driving while Ability Impaired
  • OWI: Operating while Impaired
  • DUI : Driving Under the Influence

How do you get a "DUI" i.e. an impaired driving charge?

The most common terms we are all familiar with are ".08" and "blowing over". What does 0.08 mean?

  • having consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the concentration is the person's blood exceeds 80 milligrams of alcohol. That is more than 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood.

You don't need a breathalyzer or blood test to have an impaired charge, nor does it need to be alcohol related. Drugs can also result in an impaired charge.

An impaired driving can result where the person's ability to operate the car (or boat, or plane or railway equipment) is impaired by alcohol or a drug.

What if a driver refuses a breathalyzer?

There is a different, yet similar charge for this. You will be charged with "Refusing to Provide a Breath Sample". Although the charges are different, the penalties associated with it are exactly the same as an impaired driving charge.

What charges does an individual face for drunk driving?

Impaired Driving. As mentioned above there are many terms for Impaired Driving. The most common of whis is a "DUI".

What are the license suspensions when found guilty?

These vary by province:

Province1st Offence2nd Offence3rd OffenceSubsequent Offences
Alberta1 year3 years5 years5 years
British Columbia1 year3 yearsindefinitelyindefinitely
Manitoba1 year5 years10 yearslifetime suspension
New Brunswick1 year1 year1 year1 year
Newfoundland and Labrador1 year3 years5 yearsLifetime suspension
Nova Scotia1 year3 yearsIndefinitelyIndefinitely
Ontario1 year3 yearsIndefinitelyIndefinitely
Prince Edward Island1 year3 years5 years5 years
Quebec1 year3 years5 years5 years
Saskatchewan1 year3 years5 years5 years
Northwest Territories / Nunavut1 year3 years5 yearsIndefinitely
Yukon1 year3 yearsIndefinitelyIndefinitely

Educational or Rehabilitation programs or courses may be required for any of the above suspensions.