Lawyer for Drunk Driving Explains Impaired Driving Laws

Driving under the influence, or impaired driving, becomes a serious offence with consequences that affect you legally and personally. Stringent impaired driving laws are in place to guarantee the safety of all road users. This comprehensive blog post will explore drunk driving cases in Canada along with the corresponding laws and regulations. Find out how important the legal counsel of a lawyer for drunk driving. drunk driving

Drunk Driving in Canada [Statistics]

Operating a vehicle under the influence, commonly known as drunk or impaired driving, involves driving after consuming alcohol or drugs. This compromises the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely. This impairment can result in reduced reaction time, impaired judgment, and compromised motor skills, posing a significant risk to drivers, passengers, and other road users. Canada has a remarkably big record of impaired driving cases throughout the whole region:
  • Prince Edward Island had the highest impaired driving rate among provinces at 645 incidents per 100,000 people, nearly three times the national average of 228 incidents.
  • In the Northwest Territories, the rate was remarkably high at 3,139 incidents per 100,000 people.
  • Saskatchewan followed with 539 incidents per 100,000 people, still lower than rates in the territories.
  • Provinces with the lowest impaired driving rates were Ontario (104), Quebec (176), and Manitoba (310) per 100,000 population.
In 2018, legislative measures were introduced, granting police new powers for alcohol and drug screening. These measures contributed to the reported increase in impaired driving incidents in 2019.

Canadian Impaired Driving Laws

In Canada, impaired driving is governed by federal and provincial laws. The Criminal Code of Canada summarizes the offences related to impaired driving, while each province and territory has additional regulations and penalties. The key federal legislation includes Section 253, which addresses impaired driving offences and sets the legal framework for prosecuting individuals who operate a vehicle under the influence. The Criminal Code strictly prohibits driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination. Penalties vary from mandatory fines to life imprisonment based on the severity of the offence.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is a crucial metric in determining impairment due to alcohol consumption. In Canada, the legal BAC limit is 0.08%, meaning that if a driver’s BAC exceeds this limit, they can put fees for impaired driving. Additionally, there are stricter limits for novice drivers and commercial vehicle operators.
Driver Type Legal BAC Limit
Regular Driver 0.08%
Novice Driver (G1, G2) 0.00%
Commercial Vehicle Driver 0.04%

Criminal Code Offenses

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, drunk driving offences encompass various actions, including operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Moreover, refusing a breath sample is also considered a criminal offence. The charges depend on factors such as the level of impairment, previous offences, and the presence of aggravating circumstances. Common Criminal Code offences related to impaired driving include:


The forbidden blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is 80 mg or more of alcohol/100 ml of blood.

Cannabis (THC)

Two levels of THC exist a less severe offense for 2 to 5 nanograms per ml of blood and a more serious one for 5 ng or more per ml of blood.

Combination of Alcohol and Cannabis

The prohibited levels when alcohol and cannabis are combined are 50mg or more of alcohol per 100ml of blood and 2.5 ng or more of THC per ml of blood.

Other Drugs

Detection of any amount of LSD, psilocybin, psilocin, ketamine, PCP, cocaine, methamphetamine, or 6-mam in your system within two hours of driving is prohibited.


The prohibited level for GHB is 5mg or more per litre of blood, considering the body can produce low levels of this drug.

Penalties and Consequences for Impaired Driving

Impaired driving is a serious crime that jeopardizes public safety. Committing this offence by having prohibited levels of alcohol, THC, or other impairing drugs in your blood within two hours of driving comes with consequences. The penalties depend on factors like the concentration of alcohol or drugs, whether it’s your first or a repeated offence, and whether harm or death has resulted from your actions.
Charge Penalty
Alcohol-impaired Driving
  • BAC at or over 80mg per 100ml
  • 1st Offence: $1000 fine; Max 10 years imprisonment of blood within 2 hours of driving
  • 2nd Offence: 30 days imprisonment; Max 10 years imprisonment
  • 3rd Offence: 120 days imprisonment; Max 10 years imprisonment
Drug-impaired Driving
  • THC 5ng or more per ml of blood
  • Detectable levels of specified drugs
  • GHB 5mg or more per 1 litre of blood
  • 1st Offence: $1000 fine; Max 10 years imprisonment
  • 2nd Offence: 30 days imprisonment; Max 10 years imprisonment
  • 3rd Offence: 120 days imprisonment; Max 10 years imprisonment
  • BAC of 50mg per 100ml + THC 2.5ng or more per 1ml of blood within 2 hours of driving
  • 1st Offence: $1000 fine; Max 10 years imprisonment
  • 2nd Offence: 30 days imprisonment; Max 10 years imprisonment
  • 3rd Offence: 120 days imprisonment; Max 10 years imprisonment
Refusal to Comply
  • Refusal to comply with sample demand
  • 1st Offence: $2000 fine
  • 2nd Offence: 30 days imprisonment; Max 10 years imprisonment
  • 3rd Offence: 120 days imprisonment; Max 10 years imprisonment
Drug-impaired Driving – Summary Conviction
  • THC over 2ng but less than 5ng
  • Maximum $1000 fine of blood within 2 hours of driving
Impaired Driving Causing Bodily Harm
  • Summary Conviction
  • Indictment
  • Max 2 years imprisonment
  • Max 14 years imprisonment
Impaired Driving Causing Death
  • Indictment
  • Max life imprisonment
1st Offence + BAC Levels
  • BAC of 80-119ml
  • BAC of 120-159ml
  • BAC of 160 mg or more
  • Mandatory minimum $1000 fine
  • Mandatory minimum $1500 fine
  • Mandatory minimum $2000 fine

Emphasis on the Need for Legal Counsel in Drunk Driving Cases

Given the severe consequences associated with impaired driving charges, seeking legal counsel is important. Personal injury lawyers Edmonton with expertise in impaired driving cases can help see the legal process, build a strong defence, and protect the accused’s rights. Legal counsel can help in the following ways:
  • Legal Expertise: Lawyers specializing in impaired driving cases possess in-depth knowledge of relevant laws and legal precedents.
  • Defense Strategy: Crafting a strategic defence tailored to the case’s specific circumstances.
  • Negotiation Skills: Negotiating with prosecutors to secure favorable plea deals or reduced charges.
  • Court Representation: Providing effective representation in court to present the best possible defense.

Consequences of Impaired Driving

Penalties and Fines

Impaired driving convictions carry significant financial penalties. In addition to mandatory fines, individuals may face additional costs, such as:
  • legal fees
  • increased insurance premiums
  • expenses related to mandatory alcohol education programs
The financial burden can be substantial, underscoring the importance of avoiding impaired driving situations altogether.

Impact on Driving Record and Insurance

A conviction for impaired driving has lasting effects on one’s driving record. A criminal record, license suspension, and the presence of the offence on the driving record can result in increased insurance premiums or even denial of coverage.  Insurance companies view individuals with impaired driving convictions as high-risk. This leads to financial repercussions that extend well beyond the initial fines.

Potential Criminal Record

Perhaps one of the most significant consequences of impaired driving is the potential for acquiring a criminal record. A criminal record can severely affect employment opportunities, international travel, and personal relationships.  A stigma can persist long after the legal penalties have been served, emphasizing the need for a strong legal defence to minimize or eliminate such long-term repercussions. drunk driving

Seek Help from a Professional Drunk Driving Lawyer

When it comes to impaired driving charges, facing the legal system alone can be overwhelming. Seeking help from a lawyer for drunk driving is important to protect your rights and achieve the best outcome.  Sidhu Personal Injury Lawyers in Edmonton have the expertise to interpret laws, build a strong defence, and guide you through the legal process. With potential severe consequences like fines and imprisonment, getting professional assistance isn’t just a choice but a strategic necessity.  Call us now for your legal counselling needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, impaired driving laws apply to all motorized vehicles, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, and boats. Some jurisdictions may have specific laws for certain types of vehicles.

Depending on local laws, refusing a breathalyzer or blood test can lead to legal consequences, such as license suspension or other penalties. Many jurisdictions have implied consent laws, which mean that by obtaining a driver’s license, individuals agree to test for alcohol or drug testing if suspected of impaired driving.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) are terms used interchangeably in many places, but some jurisdictions differentiate them based on factors like BAC levels or the type of substance causing impairment.

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