The Laws for Impaired Driving Offences Have Changed

The laws regarding impaired driving were updated back in October 2016 to reflect a distinction between driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs. In the past, the law viewed impaired driving offences as essentially the same, with little distinctions.

The changes in the law were primarily made to differentiate the testing methods to determine whether a person is impaired and also in regards to mandatory driver license suspensions. The penalties for being convicted and found guilty of either type of impaired driving offence did not change.

Impaired Driving – Drugs

In the past, those charged with driving under the influence of drugs did not have their driver license automatically suspended at the time they were charged. Rather, any suspension did not occur until after the person was convicted and found guilty of the offence. The recent changes in the laws now allows for automatic driver license suspensions if charged with an impairment by drugs offence.

Now, when a driver is stopped by a police officer, if the officer suspects the driver is operating the vehicle while under the influence of drugs, they can require the driver to complete a sobriety test. If the driver fails the test or refuses to take it, they can be transported to the local police station, where they will be evaluated by a drug expert to determine whether they are actually impaired. The drug expert can demand the person provide a urine sample for testing. If it is determine there is impairment from drugs, the person’s driver license is immediately suspended.

Impaired Driving – Alcohol

In regards to drinking and driving, the mandatory driver license suspension did not change. If a person is stopped, fails a field sobriety test, and fails their breathalyzer or other test to determine blood alcohol concentration levels, their license will be immediately suspended. The laws do not make a distinction between impaired driving and refusing to provide a sample. If a person refuses to provide a sample for suspected drinking and driving, they will still be charged with an impaired driving offence.

Impaired Driving and “Over 80”

When a law enforcement official demands a person provide a sample, they are testing the milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. Many people assume in order to be charged for drinking and driving their test results have to be “Over 80,” or greater than 80 mgs per 100 millilitres. However, the “warn range,” where a person is considered legally impaired, is between 50 mg and 80 mg per 100 millilitres of blood. If you test in this range, you will still be charged for drinking and driving under the Provincial Offences Act.

DISCLAIMER:The above content is provided for informative purposes only and should not be viewed as actual legal advice. If you have been charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is always in your best interests to seek advice from a qualified and experienced Ottawa criminal defence lawyer, like Céline Dostaler. Call 613.695.8595 now!


Please enter the code above.

The use of the internet or this form for communication with the firm does not establish a lawyer-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.
If this is urgent, call Céline Dostaler at 613-863-8595.