Despite its small size and population, Prince Edward Island arrests twice as many people every year for driving while impaired than the national average. Incidents of impaired driving have jumped 23 percent in the last decade in Prince Edward Island while the national average has steadily declined.
Under Canadian law, peace officers can compel anyone they suspect of operating a vehicle while impaired within the previous three hours to provide a breath sample to detect the driver's BAC. You can even be approached if a vehicle is not operating but is "in your care," meaning that you are sitting in the driver's seat while the car is not cranked.
You can also be charged with a criminal violation if you are below the legal BAC limit but are driving unsafely with alcohol in your body. In Prince Edward Island, police officers can issue administrative license suspensions on drivers with a BAC above 0.05. An administrative action is not a criminal charge and does not go on your criminal record; however, violations of suspensions can lead to criminal charges. There is never a reason to refuse a BAC test because refusal always results in the same consequences as driving while impaired.
Prince Edward Island has a zero tolerance policy for novice drivers. All drivers 19 years of age or younger and drivers who have held a driver's license for less than three years regardless of age cannot operate a vehicle with a BAC above 0.00. Violation of this policy results in the following consequences:
If you are pulled over in Prince Edward Island for suspicion of drinking and driving and your BAC is above 0.05, the following consequences apply:
If convicted in court of driving with a BAC above 0.08, the following consequences apply:
If caught driving while your licenses is suspended, you face the following consequences in addition to possible fines:
In an effort to curtail drunk driving, judges have been assigning strict penalties for violations, including jail time for first offenders. Upon conviction of driving with a BAC greater than 0.08, offenders face the following jail sentences:
If your impaired driving causes bodily harm to others, you can face substantially stiffer consequences. A man from Prince Edward Island was recently sentenced to five years imprisonment for causing a woman's death behind the wheel.
Drivers who have been convicted of driving while impaired must complete the Driver Rehabilitation Course to have their license reinstated. The course consists of two three-hour sessions in which participants learn about the risks of drinking and driving. Courses are held in Montague, Summerside and Charlottetown. Offenders are expected to pay the program fee upfront.
First offenders are required to pay a minimum fine of $1,200 upon conviction. They will also likely see their insurance premium increase. Drivers also must pay for any towing and impoundment fees.
Anyone convicted of driving while impaired must enroll in the ignition interlock program for one year. If a child under age 16 was in the car with the driver at the time of arrest, the driver must enroll for two years.
Ignition interlock is a device which requires drivers to provide a breath sample free of alcohol before a vehicle will start. Offenders must pay for the installation of the device, which costs about $150, a monthly program fee of $105 and a $50 deinstallation fee. All breath samples are recorded and monitored. Tampering with the device, repeatedly failing breath tests or driving another vehicle without ignition interlock can result in a $500-1,000 fine.