What the Law Says

Are you aware of the penalties for drinking and driving?

Legislation to combat this serious problem is found in both provincial (BC Motor Vehicle Act) and federal (Criminal Code of Canada) laws. The relevant Acts are very detailed and somewhat confusing. The plain language interpretation below is intended to provide a brief overview to help you understand these laws. If there is any difference between this interpretation and the legislation, you should refer to the legislation to determine the actual penalties.

Do you know the possible penalties for these impaired driving offences?

If a police officer suspects that your ability to drive is affected by alcohol or drugs (no matter what your BAC – Blood Alcohol Content)…

If you receive two or more 24-hour roadside prohibitions within a 2 year period…

    • you may be prohibited from driving for two months or more. (If you are a new driver, you may be prohibited after only one 24-hour prohibition.)

If you refuse to provide a blood or breath sample or your BAC is over the .08 (80 mg %) limit...

    • you can be prohibited from driving for a 24-hour period, right on the spot and
    • you can be given a further 90 day Administrative Driving Prohibition effective 21 days later – that means no driving for almost three months.
    • you can face criminal charges for impaired driving.

If you are a repeat offender...

If you are charged and found guilty under the Criminal Code of Canada of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs (no matter what your BAC) or you refuse to provide a blood or breath sample or your BAC is over the .08 (80mg%) limit…

    • you will automatically lose your driver’s licence for a year, on a first conviction; that means no driving for a year, and the penalties are even more severe for subsequent convictions.
    • you will be fined a minimum of $1000.
    • you will face a jail sentence.

If you are convicted of impaired driving causing injury or death…

    • you will lose your driver’s licence for up to 10 years or, if convicted of causing death, for any amount of time determined by the court.
    • you will face unlimited fines.
    • you will face up to 10 years in jail or, if convicted of causing death, up to life in prison.

If you drive while prohibited or while your driver’s licence is suspended…

    • the vehicles you are driving will be impounded.
    • you may face further fines, jail or longer prohibitions if convicted of driving while prohibited.