In 2007, 35 people in Nova Scotia were killed and another 88 were seriously injured as a result of impaired driving. In an effort to lower incidents of drunk driving, Nova Scotia has instituted administrative penalties for drivers with a BAC of 0.05 or higher. Anyone caught driving with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08 does not face criminal charges; however, they will lose their license for 24 hours.
BAC is most commonly measured by breath sample. If a police officer suspects that a driver is impaired, he may ask the driver to blow into portable machine which measures BAC. If the driver refuses to cooperate, they can immediately be charged with driving while impaired and face the same consequences for that crime.
In Nova Scotia, novice drivers in the Graduated Drivers License program may not have any alcohol in their body while operating a vehicle. If you have less than two years of driving experience and are caught with a BAC above 0.00, the following consequences apply:
If you are pulled over in Nova Scotia for suspicion of driving while impaired and you blow between 0.05 and 0.08, the following consequences apply:
If caught with a BAC above 0.08 while driving, the following consequences immediately apply:
If you are convicted in court of driving while impaired, you face the following consequences:
Drivers must pay a fee of approximately $115 to reinstate a suspended license.
While first offenders usually do not face jail time, the following consequences apply for multiple offenders:
Much stronger penalties apply if your impaired driving causes the death or injury of another person. Causing bodily harm can result in a ten year prison sentence and an additional 10 year driving prohibition. Causing death can result in permanent license revocation and lifetime imprisonment.
If convicted of driving while impaired in Nova Scotia, you must undergo an alcohol and drug dependency screening administered by Nova Scotia Addiction Services. You will be asked about your history of drug and alcohol use, and you will be referred to a treatment program if the assessment reveals signs an addiction. Otherwise, you must participate in the Driving While Impaired (DWI) program, an educational course in which participants learn about the dangers of driving while impaired. The course can take a full year to complete, and the approximate cost of $415 must be paid at the time of assessment.
In addition to the $600-2000 fine they must pay when convicted and the $115 license reinstatement fee, offenders will likely see their insurance premium significantly rise.
Some offenders may have to enroll in the ignition interlock program. Ignition interlock is a device similar to the portable breath-testers police officers use to test BAC which is installed in the offender's vehicle. The driver must provide a breath sample free of any alcohol in order for the engine to start. Drivers must pay to have the device installed and uninstalled in addition to a monthly service fee.
First-time offenders with no alcohol or drug dependency, as determined by the assessment from Addiction Services, can enroll in the ignition interlock program if they wish to have their license reinstated early. Three months after conviction, they may request to have the device installed in their vehicle as a condition of early license reinstatement. After nine months, the device is removed and full driving privileges are granted.
Repeat offenders and first-time offenders whose assessment reveals signs of alcohol or drug dependency must enroll in the program for the following lengths of time: