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Criminal Offences / Drinking & Driving

Impaired Driving is a Federal Criminal Offence*

* All criminal matters are handled by Mr. Frank Bernhardt Barrister and Solicitor

Section 253(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada makes it an offence to operate or have care and control of a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment while your blood alcohol concentration is greater than 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood. This term is often shortened to 80 mg% or .08.

Other Criminal driving offences include:

  • Failing to provide a breath sample,

  • Dangerous driving,

  • Failing to stop after an accident,

  • Criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle,

  • Driving while prohibited,

  • Engaging police in a pursuit, and

  • All the above (where applicable) resulting in bodily harm or death.

Many drivers believe that if they are charged with any of the above offences there may be no further repercussions. On the other hand impaired/drunk driving is a serious offence, which may have critical effects on your driving record as well as your insurance rates. If you are stopped while driving impaired the police officer has the right to require you to conduct a breathalyzer test. Your right at this point in time is to be careful not to incriminate yourself.

  • You do not have to tell the police officer how much you have had to drink or when you started or finished drinking;

  • You do not have to perform any sobriety test such as walking a line;

What you must do:

  • You have to produce your driver`s license; vehicle registration and insurance;

  • If asked you must blow into blow into an Approved Screening Device (ASD). What does the Approved Screening Device (ASD) Do?

  • It tests for the presence of alcohol in your body;

  • It is set for a "warn" at a reading of between of 50 to 100 milligrams (Note: The legal limit is 80 milligrams or .08);

    It is set for a "fail" at a reading of a 100 milligrams and over (Note: The legal limit is 80 milligrams or .08).

    What happens if I blow over 100 milligrams?

  • The police officer can suspend your drivers license for 90 days;

  • The police officer can require you to attend at the police station to take a breathalyzer test, which gives a more precise measure of the alcohol in your blood.

What are my Rights Regarding the Breathalyzer Test?

  • You have the right to be told why you are being detained at the police station;

  • You must be told of your right to contact a lawyer before having to give a breathalyzer sample;

  • If you blow over .08 you`ll be charged with this offence;

  • If you blow under .08 you still may be charged with the separate offence of impaired driving.

What happens if this is the first or second offence?

  • First time offence (over 80 mgms. of alcohol in 100 ml. of blood) carries a one-year suspension of driving privileges, and a fine of not less than $600.

  • Second time offence (over 80 mgms. of alcohol in 100 ml. of blood) carries a two-year suspension of driving privileges, and imprisonment for not less than 14 days.

  • Insurance premiums often rise dramatically, in some cases to $7,000 per year.

  • Also involved in a Crash - In BC, if you are convicted of impaired driving and you caused a crash, the cost of your vehicle insurance will increase. In addition, ICBC will not pay to repair or replace the vehicle. ICBC can also recover


Note: 1 - In Ontario, if the lower of the two readings is 90 mgs % or greater you will be issued a document advising you your driving privileges have been administratively suspended for 90 days. Even those who are acquitted of the charge, carry the 90-day suspension on their records for three years. This is one of the very few incidences in the English Speaking World where the cherished "Innocent until proven guilty" tenet is violated. Impaired Driving Penalties

When would be the most practical time to retain a lawyer?

If you have been charged with impaired driving it is wise to seek legal advice. If convicted there may be the probability that there was a mistake and the charges may not be pending. Very often there is the concern of the cost and time which may follow when retaining a lawyer. When you balance the two you will find the seeking legal advice is the most cost efficient and elaborate way to handle such a conviction. In doing so you may be able to avoid the following:

  • You may lose your job if you cannot drive;

  • You face a severe change in your life style if you cannot drive;

  • Addition Insurance premiums for up to six years; You will have a criminal record;

  • In Ontario, persons convicted of drinking and driving offences must complete a remedial program at a cost of $475 plus GST before license reinstatement.

  • Anyone convicted in Ontario of a drinking and driving offence, must install an ignition interlock in their vehicle once their driving privileges are restored. Before starting the car, the driver will have to blow into the device. If an impermissible level of alcohol is detected, the car will not start.

Insurance Implications

Drivers who drink and drive are considered to be “High Risk” drivers to insurance companies, and their insurance falls under “Facility Rating”. Facility Rated insurance is drivers who are considered to be high risk and their insurance premiums is over ten thousand (10,000) dollars per year, for at least five years. If however, the incident includes a motor vehicle accident, insurance companies' may refuse to pay for any damages that may have incurred to the accused's motor vehicle.

*Any insurance policy will be void whereupon the vehicle was found to be used in relation to an illegal act.*

If the driver is involved in a motor vehicle accident and was charged with a drinking and driving offence, the insurance company will not be responsible for any damages, nor will they pay any claims for damages. The insurance company may have the option of suing the accused for any claims made to them for damages made to the other person's vehicle or any property damage due to the accident.

* All criminal matters are handled by Mr. Frank Bernhardt Barrister and Solicitor

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