Impared Driving in Canada

Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a very serious offense in Canada, and the government is fighting impaired driving the Criminal Code of Canada’s tough DUI laws. Those charged with impaired driving face long-term consequences for one poor decision, and they may need a criminal defence lawyer to help them prepare a strong criminal defence.
Anyone operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be charged with impaired driving. The official blood alcohol concentration level for DUI is 0.08. However, drivers with BACs between 0.05 and 0.08 are in the “warn range” and may be charged with provincial administrative penalties. Novice drivers and drivers under age 21 are in the “Zero BAC” category, and may not have any alcohol in their systems while operating a motor vehicle.


The Criminal Code of Canada specifies very serious penalties for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drivers charged with DUI should consult with a criminal lawyer so that they understand their rights during the criminal process.

Those convicted of impaired driving may be ordered by the Court to participate in an education or treatment program as part of their sentences. The Ministry of Transportation provides the details on treatment requirements for specific cases. As part of treatment, drivers are required to pay costs for education, assessments and follow up, in addition to any fines ordered by the Court. Drivers should register for their education and treatment courses immediately after conviction because courses may take up to one year to complete.

The first conviction for DUI does not have any minimum jail time, but drivers have their licenses suspended for one year, must drive their vehicles with ignition interlock devices for one year, and pay $1,000 in fines. The second conviction for DUI has a 30-day minimum jail sentence and requires drivers to use ignition interlock devises for three years. Third or subsequent convictions result in lifetime drivers’ license suspensions and 120-day minimum jail sentences. Drivers should consult with a criminal lawyer because the lifetime drivers’ license suspensions may be reduced to 10 years in some cases if the drivers meet conditions.

Impaired driving is a very serious offense in Canada. Drivers should ask their doctors about any side effects to prescription medications that may impair their driving, and always plan to get home safely when drinking. You might be interested in learning more at the Donna V. Pledge website.