What is the Punishment for Impaired Driving in Canada?

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In 2019 a police report shows an average of 228 cases per 100,000 persons were involved in driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The total number of cases was 85,673, which is undoubtedly a large number.

Given the distant location of their cities/towns and inadequate public transportation, countries like Canada most likely experience higher rates of drunk or impaired driving.

So if you are a Canadian or going to travel or reside in Canada, you should know about impaired driving and its punishment.

What Does the Law Say About Impaired Driving?

According to the criminal code, driving while intoxicated by alcohol, drug/ any other narcotic, or the combination of drug and alcohol is against the law. It’s also called DUI—Driving Under Influence.

Driving under the influence is prohibited when operating a motorcycle, passenger automobile, commercial vehicle, or other types of machinery.

Also, driving a motor vehicle within two hours of consuming a specified amount of alcohol, marijuana, or other scheduled drugs is unlawful.

It is illegal everywhere in Canada. So, anyone convicted of it has a permanent criminal record.

What is the Punishment for Impaired Driving in Canada?

Generally speaking, the punishment will depend on how severely you break the traffic rule. For instance, sentences for a second or third crime are harsher and include substantial fines and jail time. Also, your driving license will be suspended in various ways.

Let’s learn in-depth about punishment for impaired driving in Canada.

Drinking and driving

  • Minimum punishment of $1000 and a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail are mandatory for the first offence.
  • For the second violation, the maximum penalty is ten years in prison, with a minimum of 30 days behind bars.
  • The minimum sentence for a third crime is 120 days in jail, while the maximum possible sentence is ten years.

Driving while on drugs

  • The first offence carries a mandatory $1,000 minimum fine and a ten-year maximum jail sentence.
  • For a second offence, the penalties can range from 30 days in jail to 10 years in prison.
  • The third offence carries a minimum jail sentence of 120 days and a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

Using both drugs and alcohol

  • First-time offenders must pay a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000; the maximum penalty is ten years in jail.
  • Second offences have statutory minimum sentences of 30 days and maximum sentences of 10 years in jail.
  • The third offence carries a minimum sentence of 120 days in jail and a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Know the difference between Jail and Prison

Additional Penalties in Provincial Laws for Driving Under the Influence

Canada’s provinces are responsible for creating alcohol and drug use laws. That’s why there will be some variations in the rules and punishments for convictions for intoxicated driving.

Check your provincial or territory laws to learn about any additional penalties that may be imposed for impaired driving in addition to any criminal consequences.

These penalties can include administrative fines, license suspensions, required training for license renewal, or vehicle seizures, to name just a few.

Now, you need to know a few more consequences of the criminal act or if the police stop in the middle of the road.

How are Impaired Driving Rules Imposed in Canada?

Police will charge you once they are done examining you. The process is as follows –

Alcohol screening

Even when there is no reason yet to suspect that the driver is intoxicated, it is necessary by law. Whenever a vehicle is lawfully stopped, police officers have the right to ask the driver to provide a baseline breath sample for alcohol testing.

Oral fluid drug screening

Police can use drug screeners for oral fluid to detect the presence of THC and other drugs in oral fluid. This process is quick and painless.

Additional investigation techniques

The police may ask a driver to participate in a Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST) or a Drug Recognition Expert Evaluation (DRE).

Read More about: What are Vehicular Manslaughter Sentences in Canada?

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Driving Record in Canada?

There is no simple answer to this. However, a DUI (Driving Under Influence) conviction might affect your driving record for up to 80 years. And there is no specific due date for this.

Also, DUI convictions do not automatically disappear from your driving record, which means if you do not ask for a pardon, it will stay that way forever.

It might affect your constitutional rights as a citizen too. Moreover, you might never be allowed to enter Canada again if you are an immigrant.

How DUI Works in Canada

Almost always, the accusation results in a DUI conviction, and judges frequently disregard the testimony of the accused party.

So, it’s often ineffective trying to reverse a decision. You will only be charged if the drug test shows you are intoxicated. So, the reliability of your testimony is relatively low.

Most people find that later on, seeking a pardon is a better use of their time and money than trying to have their conviction overturned in court.

How Does Getting a DUI Affect Your Driving Record?

The record of a driver will show your DUI conviction in many states. Because of this, your license to drive will be suspended. Yet, you can reinstate your driving license after a specified period.

Still, the record will be at the DMV. Finding a job as a driver may become quite challenging as a result. You will also notice a significant increase in the cost of your auto insurance. Law enforcement officers are also always willing to question you.

Alongside these, driving under the influence is a crime in most states. Hence, your name will now have a criminal record if you drive under the influence (DUI) for the third time.

When Can You Apply for a Pardon?

If you are declared innocent, you can ask to have a DUI taken from your record, suggesting that the authorities will drop any prior DUI accusations against you.

However, you must apply for a pardon if you are found guilty. However, you can only apply for a pardon after paying the five-year fine. The pardon procedure should start at least 12 to 20 months before the five-year timeframe expires.

Thus, you can clear your criminal record by receiving a DUI pardon. You can reclaim your privileges and rights. Still, other authorities may be looking into your criminal history.

Concluding Remarks

The Canadian government has strict rules regarding impaired drivers because it’s a major public safety issue. People, especially the young group, don’t realize the consequences of driving under the influence. If any need help regarding DUI, it is recommended to consult an expert lawyer.



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