Canada’s new impaired driving laws are among the toughest. And alcohol-related impaired driving laws will be updated in the Criminal Code of Canada in order to become comparable with drug-impaired driving laws that were reformed earlier this year.
Here is what you need to know about how these new laws could affect you.
Mandatory alcohol screening
The police will now have the authority to demand breathalyzer tests from any driver they pull over. Earlier, officers could only test drivers if they had a reasonable suspicion the person was impaired. Refuse to provide one and the driver can be charged. Your choice.
No more ‘bolus drinking defence’
Before Dec. 18, drivers could use the “bolus drinking defence,” arguing that they consumed alcohol just before driving and it was not absorbed yet.
The new law eliminates this defence, by making it illegal to be at or over the alcohol limit within two hours of being behind the wheel.
The new law also bumps up the maximum penalties for many alcohol-impaired driving offences.
Formerly, the mandatory minimum fines were: $1,000 for first offence, 30 days imprisonment for second offence, and 120 days in jail for a third offence.
These are the penalties now:
• First offence, with blood alcohol content of 80-119 mg: mandatory minimum $1,000 fine
• First offence, with blood alcohol content of 120-159 mg: mandatory minimum $1,500 fine
• First offence, with blood alcohol content of 160 mg or more: mandatory minimum $2,500 fine
• First offence, but refuse to be tested: mandatory minimum $2,000 fine
• Second offence: mandatory minimum 30 days imprisonment
• Third or more offence: mandatory minimum 120 days imprisonment
• Maximum penalties for impaired driving causing no bodily harm or death: summary conviction carries two years less a day imprisonment, indictment carries 10 years imprisonment
• Maximum penalties for impaired driving causing bodily harm: Summary conviction for less severe injuries carries two years less a day imprisonment, indictment carries 14 years imprisonment
• Maximum penalty impaired driving causing death: life imprisonment
The simplest way to avoid all this is to act responsibly.