While it might be easy to say that you will never drink and drive, too many people attempt to do this all too often. If you want the roads in Ontario to be safe, you need to do your part to keep impaired drivers off of the road. Here are 10 important facts that every Ontario driver should know. If every driver does their part to prevent impaired driving in Ontario the roads will be safer for everyone.
Many people think that impaired driving always involves alcohol of some sort. This is not true. Driving can be impaired by a variety of different substances from alcohol to prescription and over the counter medications to drugs and other substances. If your driving is impacted by something that you are taking, even if it is a prescription, you should wait to drive until the effects wear off. If you want to be safe of the road it is important to remain fully in control of your mind and body at all times.
If you are sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle, you can get an impaired driving conviction, even if you aren’t driving at the time or planning on driving. Before you take a seat in the front seat of a car, make sure that you are ready and able to drive. If you are impaired it is best to play it safe and stay away from the driver’s seat.
If you can normally safely drive after having 1 or 2 drinks, this will not always be the case. Different situations can make the effects of alcohol stronger. For example, combining medications and alcohol can impair you more quickly than if you take the two alone separately. Drinking on an empty stomach will also cause you to become impaired more quickly. If you don’t know how medications and alcohol will interact, don’t drive. It is always better to play it safe and get a ride home than to live with the consequences of driving while impaired in Ontario.
If you make the choice to drive while impaired, you can face some serious consequences. If you have a blood alcohol level greater than .05% you risk immediate, short term road side suspensions of your licence. This initial suspension can later result in a longer suspension, fines, losing your licence or having a mandatory ignition interlock device installed on your car. Besides the legal consequences you can face, driving impaired puts you at a greater risk for accidents, injury and even death.
Driving while impaired is a serious offense whether it is the first time that you are caught or the third. The fines, suspensions and penalties that you can face will get worse with each and every conviction. For example if you are driving with a blood alcohol level between .05% and .08% you will face a $150 fine and a 3 day roadside suspension on the first offense, a $150 fine and a 7 day suspension on the second offense and a $150 fine, a 30 day roadside suspension and 6 months of ignition interlock as well as mandatory alcohol treatment on the third offense. Of course, these are in addition to any other fines and restrictions that you will face if convicted of driving while impaired. It just isn’t worth taking the risk.
Driving while impaired can have serious repercussions for your financial future. If you are convicted of driving while impaired in Ontario you will probably have to spend at least $2,000 in court costs. These fees can be as much as $10,000. Treatment programs cost more than $500 and ignition interlock devices cost well over $1,000 to install. Plus you will face higher insurance premiums for many years after your conviction. It is estimated that your insurance rates will increase as much as $4,500 per year for receiving an impaired driving conviction.
While most drivers can drive with a little alcohol in their blood (less than .05%), learner drivers cannot. If you have a learners permit or licence make sure that you never drink before driving. Your blood alcohol level must be at 0% if you want to get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
If you are acting as a supervisory driver for a learner driver, it is a good idea to avoid alcohol. You need to be alert and ready to assist if necessary. As a supervisory driver you should not ever have a blood alcohol level higher than .05%. Make sure that the learner driver with you hasn’t been drinking. Their blood alcohol level needs to be at 0%.
If you are driving and are asked to take a breath alcohol test, you must comply. If you refuse you can immediately lose your licence even if you haven’t been drinking.
If you are going to drink, make sure that you have a way home before you start. Ask one of your friends to be the designated driver for the night, call a taxi or plan on spending the night wherever you are. If you think about how you will be getting home before you start drinking it will be easier to avoid the temptation to drink and drive. Take care of your friends and make sure that you all take turns being the designated driver. Making sure that everyone is safe will make drinking much more fun and responsible.