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DUI Laws Across Canada
Posted by The Breathalyzer Team on 5/18/2012 to Canadian Law

Canada’s Drunk and Impaired Driving Laws differ between provinces and territories, but generally speaking all of Canada operates in and around a three-tier system of sanctions put forth by the Criminal Code with a few variances here and there.  The imposition of provincial and territorial Motor Vehicle Acts enables them to impose a BAC below the criminal level of 0.08% for DUI offences.  The majority of Canada’s provinces and territories have chosen to do this, and therefore the BAC limits range from 0.04%-0.08% across the country, but Canadian offenders are still not subjected to the Criminal Code unless their BAC reaches or exceeds 0.08%.   Therefore administrative fees and suspensions can currently be applied to DUI offenses for all provinces below 0.08% and are subject to their specific legislations, while criminal fees and convictions can only be applied to offenders who blow over 0.08% across the country. Canada’s three-tiered system relates to the allowable Blood Alcohol Concentration limits:

  • 0.00 BAC level for young and novice drivers
  • 0.05 BAC, where administrative sanctions apply, such as license suspensions (0.04 BAC in Saskatchewan)
  • 0.08 BAC, above which level Criminal Code sanctions apply
  • Here are more details for DUI laws in Canada by province/territory.

    British Columbia

  • Under British Columbia’s Motor Vehicle Act, first offenders receive minimum fine of $600 and charged with impaired driving.
  • BC now has immediate roadside prohibition and fines can range from $600-$4,060.  They recently lowered their limit to 0.05% BAC.
  • If a driver refuses to submit to a breath test they can be charged with a criminal offense.  If convicted, the driver is prohibited from driving for a minimum of one year and their car insurance is increased substantially.
  • Refusing a breath test can also result in a 3-month driving ban, installation and payment of an ignition interlock device, several administrative, towing and impoundment fees.

    Alberta

  • Under Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act, first offenders with a BAC of 0.08% receive a minimum fine of $700 with a minimum 3-month probation from driving anywhere in Canada.
  • Alberta’s “Ignition Interlock Program” enables applicants to drive again after 3 months if a device is installed in their vehicle.
  • Under their Traffic Safety Act, Alberta issues an automatic 3-month license suspension for drivers who refuse to submit to a breath test and are believed to have a Blood Alcohol Concentration greater than 0.08% BAC.

    Saskatchewan

  • Under Saskatchewan’s Highway Traffic Act and their new province-wide Safe Driving Program, first offenders with a BAC of 0.04% or greater will lose their license for 24 hours.
  • Second offenders with a BAC of 0.04% or greater will lose their license for 24 hours and must complete a ‘Driving Without Impairment’ course within 3 months.
  • Driving while under an administrative suspension can result in vehicle impoundment.  Offenders who drive while legally prohibited to do so can lose their license for 1-5 years, must attend an addictions screening process and will get their vehicle impounded.
  • Should a driver refuse to submit to a breath test they can lose their license for 1-5 years.
  • When driving with a temporary license with a BAC of 0.04% or greater drivers will lose their license for 30 days and receive a suspension.

    Manitoba

  • Under their Highway Traffic Act, new Manitoba drivers are subject to a 5-year zero-tolerance DUI policy.  If caught driving under the influence they face a 24-hour suspension and must attend a hearing that may lead to additional penalties.
  • Drivers who are caught with a BAC of 0.05% or greater or refuse to submit to a breath sample face harsher penalties including larger fines, license suspension, demerit points, vehicle impoundment and/or possible jail time.
  • Depending on the outcome of a hearing an ignition interlock device may be installed at the offender’s expense once the license is reinstated.

    Ontario

  • Under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, drivers who violate the ‘warn range’ of 0.05-0.08 BAC face a 3-day license suspension.
  • Second-time violators face a 7-day license suspension and must attend an alcohol education program.
  • Third-time violators get their license suspended for 30 days, must complete an alcohol treatment program and have an ignition interlock device in their vehicle for a minimum of 6 months, installed and maintained at the offender’s expense.
  • First offenders who test over 0.08% BAC or refuse a breath test receive a 3-month roadside suspension, 7-day vehicle impoundment, over $1000 in fines and penalties and an Ignition Interlock Condition for a minimum of 1 year and a 1 year license suspension upon conviction.
  • Second-time offenders who test over 0.08% BAC or refuse a breath test receive a 3-month roadside suspension, 7-day vehicle impoundment, 30-day jail sentence upon conviction, fines and penalties at the judge’s discretion and an Ignition Interlock Condition for a minimum of 3 years and a 3-year license suspension upon conviction.
  • Third-time offenders who test over 0.08% BAC or refuse a breath test receive a 3-month roadside suspension, 7-day vehicle impoundment, 120-day jail sentence upon conviction, fines and penalties at the judge’s discretion and an Ignition Interlock Condition and license suspension for life, both upon conviction. This lifetime license suspension can be reduced to 10 years if certain conditions are met. DUI2

    Quebec

  • If you live in Quebec and are a new driver, and if you refuse to submit to a breath test or if you exceed 0.08% BAC, your driving privileges are immediately suspended and your car is seized for 30-90 days or more, even without prior offenses, under Quebec’s Highway Safety Code.
  • For a first-time conviction for impaired driving in Quebec, offenders receive a minimum fine of $600 and a number of other fees associated with assessments, installation of an Ignition Interlock Device, etc.
  • Quebec drivers who get caught driving during a suspension period can be fined $1,500-$3,000
  • First-time convicted offenders have their license revoked for 1 year, are responsible for a minimum fine of $1,000 and must have an Ignition Interlock Device installed in their car.
  • Second-time offenders have their license revoked for 3 years and 5 years for a 3rd or subsequent conviction. Repeat offenders cannot retrieve their license at all unless they meet specific criteria: participating in a comprehensive safety assessment and having in Ignition Interlock Device installed in their car.

    Newfoundland & Labrador

  • Under Newfoundland’s Highway Traffic Act, anyone charged with impaired driving (BAC 0.05% or greater) in Newfoundland and Labrador is subject to a 90-day administrative suspension, vehicle seizure and impoundment.  They may participate in an Ignition Interlock Program voluntarily, but may be subjected to extended suspension periods on a case-by-case basis.
  • The Ignition Interlock Program enables offenders to get their licenses reinstated earlier than if they were to not enroll in the program
  • First offenders must complete educational courses, have special license plates installed that draw attention to police on patrol and/or at checkpoints and apply for extended insurances.

    New Brunswick

  • In accordance with their Motor Vehicle Act, any driver with a BAC between 0.05-0.08% will automatically have their license revoked for 7 days.
  • Any driver who blows over 0.08% or refuses to provide a breath sample will face an immediate 90-day suspension and be asked to surrender their license.
  • New Brunswick currently has an Ignition Interlock Program

    Nova Scotia

  • In accordance with their Motor Vehicle Act, first-time offenders who have a BAC of 0.05% of greater are given a fine of $600-$2000, 1-year driving suspension and must complete an Addiction/Drug Dependency Services assessment program and/or participate in an Ignition Interlock Program.  They must also pay all administrative fees associated with the program, reinstating their license and re-taking driver’s tests, if applicable.
  • Second-time offenders (within a 10-year period) must do all of the above but must also serve a minimum 2-week prison term.
  • Third-time offenders (within a 10-year period) must do all of the above but must also serve a minimum 3-month prison term and are subject to an indefinite license suspension (minimum of 10 years).
  • In the event of a forth offense, licenses are revoked permanently and offenders are subject to all penalties issued under the Criminal Code of Canada.

    Prince Edward Island

  • Under Prince Edward Island’s Highway Traffic Act, drivers caught with a BAC in excess of 0.05% or refuse to submit to a breath test will face a 24-hour suspension (first offense), 30-day suspension (second offense) and 90-day suspension (third offense).
  • License suspensions in PEI take effect 7 days after the offence.  Offenders are also subject to vehicle impoundment for 30-60 days.  Offenders may also be required to participate in PEI’s Ignition Interlock Program.
  • Any PEI driver under the age of 19 with a BAC greater than 0.05% will have their license suspended as well as a 24-hour driving suspension effective immediately following the offense.

    Yukon Territory

  • In accordance with their Motor Vehicles Act, all drivers with a BAC of 0.08% or refuse to submit to a breath test will have their driving privileges revoked for  24 hours immediately and their license suspended for 90 days.
  • DUI laws and penalties are fairly underdeveloped here, a fact which has often incited public scrutiny.

    Northwest Territories

  • Under their Motor Vehicles Act, all drivers with a BAC of 0.05% or refuse to submit to a breath test will have their license revoked for 24 hours for their first offense and 30 days for all subsequent offenses.
  • Much like the Yukon, many feel as though the DUI laws and penalties for the Northwest Territories are currently insufficient.

    Nunavut

  • Nunavut has yet to pass a Motor Vehicle Act and currently utilizes the DUI laws of the Northwest Territories.

    Sourced Information

    http://www.lawyers.ca/international/state0.asp

    http://duicanadainfo.com/drinking-and-driving-in-bc.php

    http://www.saddsask.ca/laws.html

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/story/2006/12/13/mba-driving.html

    http://news.ontario.ca/mto/en/2009/04/ontarios-new-drinking-and-driving-law.html

    http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/impaired/penalties.shtml

    http://montreal.about.com/od/gettingaroundtown/a/impaired_drivin.htm

    http://www.saaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/driver_licence/alcohol/index.php

    http://www.releases.gov.nl.ca/releases/2003/gsl/0731n02.htm

    http://www.duihelper.com/dui-first-offense/Newfoundland-NJ.html

    http://changetheconversation.ca/drinking_and_driving_facts/offender_programs.php#q2

    http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/rmv/safe/alcohol.asp

    http://www.gov.pe.ca/news/getrelease.php3?number=411

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drunk_driving_(Canada)

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    Cindy Lemieux Date 6/19/2014
    I would like to travel with my family in Aug, 2014. Will this be a problem for me at having a DUI in 2014. Still waiting for a pardon or waiver on this.
    Cindy Lemieux Date 6/19/2014
    I would like to travel with my family in Aug. 2014. Will my DUI conviction in 2011 be a problem into going across the border into Nevada?
     
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