The Highway Traffic Acts protects the citizens of Quebec by setting a limit on the amount of alcohol allowed in a person's bloodstream while driving a vehicle. In 2006, 175 people were killed in Quebec due to impaired driving, and another 741 were seriously injured. As a result, Quebec has joined the other provinces in Canada in enacting stronger impaired driving laws.
The legal limit for a driver's blood alcohol content is 0.08; however, police may still charge a driver with driving while impaired if they are driving unsafely and have a BAC below 0.08. BAC is usually measured by a handheld device with a mouthpiece that police officers can compel drivers to blow into if they suspect the driver has been drinking. Anyone who blows above a 0.08 can be charged with driving while impaired and have their license immediately suspended. If a driver's BAC is 0.16 or higher, harsher penalties may be issued. Refusal comply with a breath sample test results in the same consequences as blowing over 0.16. It must be noted that Quebec is one of the few provinces that does not issue license suspensions for drivers whose BAC is below 0.08 but above 0.05.
Drivers under 21 years of age or individuals with learner's or probationary licenses are prohibited from driving with any alcohol in their bodies. If such an individual blows above 0.00, the following apply:
If you are pulled over by a police officer on suspicion of driving while impaired and you blow above 0.08, the following consequences immediately apply:
If you blow above 0.16, you face the following consequences:
First criminal convictions for driving while impaired carry no jail time; however, a second offense requires a minimum sentence of 30 days, and a third or greater offense requires at least 120 days imprisonment upon conviction.
The Societe de l'Assurance Automobile du Quebec administers alcohol and risk assessments. If required to undergo assessment, you must pay the $220 assessment fee upfront. You will be asked about your prior drug and alcohol use. If the assessment shows no sign of substance dependancy, you must complete the Alcoferin program, which educates participants on the social and personal dangers of drinking and driving. Completing the program is a prerequisite for reinstating your license. The class is comprised of one three-hour session, and you must pay the enrollment fee of $150 upfront.
If your initial assessment determines that you are at risk for alcohol or drug abuse, you must undergo a more extensive assessment, which costs $547, and you may have to enroll in the ignition interlock program, even if it is your first conviction.
Drivers must pay for all towing and impounding expenses. In addition, if convicted in court of driving while impaired with a BAC between 0.09 and 0.16, the following consequences apply:
If convicted of driving with a BAC greater then 0.16, the following apply:
The ignition interlock system is a device installed in the offender's vehicle which requires the driver to provide a breath sample before the car will crank. If the driver has a BAC above 0.00, the vehicle will not operate, and the infraction will be recorded by a monitoring device, resulting in possible fines.
The ignition interlock system costs $135 to install and $95 a month to maintain, all for which the driver must pay. Violating any driving restrictions, including driving a vehicle without ignition interlock, can result in a $1500-3000 fine and possible license revocation.