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Provincial Impaired Driving Information

DUI/Impaired Driving in Nova Scotia

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.

License Suspension

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:

  • GDL must be restarted from the beginning
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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:

  • Immediate 24 hour license suspension

If caught with a BAC above 0.08 while driving, the following consequences immediately apply:

  • Immediate 90 day license suspension

If you are convicted in court of driving while impaired, you face the following consequences:

  • First offence: one year driving prohibition, a $600-$2000 fine, mandatory assessment by Addiction Services, possible mandatory re-take of driving tests, possible one year enrollment in ignition interlock program if assessment unveils drug or alcohol dependency
  • Second offence: three year driving prohibition, minimum 14 days imprisonment, a $600-$2000 fine, mandatory assessment by Addiction Services, mandatory re-take of driving tests, two year enrollment in ignition interlock program
  • Third offence: minimum 10 year driving prohibition, minimum 90 days imprisonment, a $600-$2000 fine, mandatory assessment by Addiction Services, mandatory re-take of driving tests, nine year enrollment in ignition interlock program
  • Fourth offence: permanent revocation of driver's license

Drivers must pay a fee of approximately $115 to reinstate a suspended license.

Jail Time

While first offenders usually do not face jail time, the following consequences apply for multiple offenders:

  • Second offence: minimum of 14 days imprisonment
  • Third or greater offence: minimum of 90 days imprisonment

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.

Alcohol Education

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.

Additional Fines and Fees

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:

  • First offence: one year
  • Second offence: two years
  • Third offence: nine years