A lot of this is required by the Ontario government, and there are enforceable laws that must be followed. This is a serious offence and if you don’t understand the regulations you just find yourself in an unfortunate situation. Did you know that you can lose your driving privilege if you choose to drink and drive?
Here are some important facts to help you better understand the drinking and driving regulations in Ontario. Read these carefully and always pay attention before you get behind the wheel of a car.
For a learner driver, it is illegal to have any alcohol in their system when behind the wheel. For a fully licensed driver, it is illegal to have a blood alcohol level of 0.05 or higher. If you have a provisional licence you cannot have any alcohol in system, no matter your age. Many drivers with a provisional licence mistakenly think that they can have a drink before driving if they are old enough to drink. This is not true. If you have a learner’s licence make sure that you have a blood alcohol level of 0% before you get behind the wheel of the car.
Did you know that the car you are in doesn’t have to be moving to get an impaired driving violation? If you are sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle, moving or not, and have too much alcohol in your system you can get a fine, lose your licence and face other penalties. Don’t ever sit in the driver’s seat unless you are physically able to drive.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious crime in Ontario. Make sure that you read the information about side effects before driving if you have taken any prescription or over the counter medications. Never drive after using illegal drugs. You should also know that mixing drugs and alcohol can make side effects and impairment worse. Anything that impairs your ability to drive safely is illegal, even if you are under the legal blood alcohol limit.
Ontario takes impaired driving very seriously. In fact they are known for having one of the strictest laws in all of North America. Drivers under 21 or with a provisional licence can immediately have their licence suspended if they have any alcohol in their blood. Fully licensed drivers over 21 must have a blood alcohol level that is lower than .05% or they risk a 24 hour road side suspension. In addition to facing suspension you can also get a fine of $60-$500 if convicted and a 30 day suspension. If your blood alcohol level is more than .08% you face more serious charges.
Getting a citation for drinking and driving is very serious and the consequences can remain with you for a long time. Many drivers have to take alcohol education courses, others have to have ignition interlock devices installed and you can face serious fines. Any convictions will remain on your licence for at least 10 years.
If you are asked to take a breath analysis test, you must comply. Refusing to do so can result in an immediate suspension of your licence, even if you are not intoxicated.
If you are caught drinking and driving you may be required to get an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. This applies to any car that you will drive. If you drive a vehicle without this device the vehicle will be impounded. Make sure that if you are loaning your car to someone else that you first verify their licence or you may be without a car for 7 days while it is in impound.
While each drinking and driving conviction is serious, you will find that the penalties get worse with each offense. For example if you are caught in what is called the “warn range” (blood alcohol level between .05% and .08%) you will face a $150 fine and a 3 day suspension on the first offense. The second offense you will have the $150 fine, a 7 day suspension and an alcohol education course. The third time you will face the $150 fine, a 30 suspension, a 6 month mandatory interlock device and a mandatory alcohol treatment program. As you can see the consequences get worse each time and these are just the roadside consequences. Others may apply if you are convicted. These cannot be disputed, appealed or overturned.
Drinking and driving is expensive. You can face some severe fines and financial charges if you choose to do this. Estimated court costs can be anywhere between $2,000 and $10,000. If you violate the criminal code your fine will be $1,000. A treatment program costs $578. Your insurance will go up, sometimes as much as $4,500 additionally per year. Plus if you have to get an ignition interlock device it can cost $1,300. As you can see, it is much less expensive to avoid drinking before driving.
If you are planning on drinking, don’t take the risk of losing your licence. Instead ask someone else to drive. This is by far the easiest way to avoid drinking and driving convictions and problems. If you never drink and drive you will never have to worry about any of these potential consequences.
If you have an Ontario driver’s licence, make sure that you don’t risk it by drinking and driving. This is a serious offense and isn’t worth the risk. In addition to the financial and legal problems that you can face you can also find yourself seriously injuring or killing others or yourself. Next time you get ready to drink, make sure that you find someone else to drive you home.