This article was originally published in Mosaic Newsletter for Fall 2018 / Winter 2019.
Illegal drugs, cannabis, alcohol, over-the-counter and prescription medications can all affect your judgment, reaction time, coordination and motor skills. An individual’s reactions to the drug cannot be predicted, so it is better to be safe (and avoid driving) than sorry!
Throughout Canada, the maximum legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for fully licensed drivers is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, or 0.08. In Ontario, drivers also face serious consequences if your BAC is between 0.05 and 0.08, i.e. the “warn range.”
If your blood alcohol concentration is 0.05 or higher, you fail a roadside sobriety test or you violate the zero tolerance requirements for young, novice and commercial drivers, penalties include:
- 3-day licence suspension. This cannot be appealed.
- $250 penalty (began in January 2019)
Second offence within 5 years
- 7-day licence suspension (3-day suspension for commercial drivers). This cannot be appealed.
- $350 penalty (began in January 2019)
- You must attend a mandatory education program (for a second occurrence within 10 years)
Third and subsequent offences within 5 years
- 30-day licence suspension (3-day suspension for commercial drivers). This cannot be appealed.
- $450 penalty (began in January 2019)
- You must attend a mandatory treatment program (for third and subsequent offence within 10 years)
- You will be required to use an ignition interlock device for at least six months (for third and subsequent offence within 10 years)
- You will need to undergo a mandatory medical evaluation to determine whether you meet the requirements for driving in Ontario (for fourth and subsequent offence within 10 years).*
Tips to avoid impaired driving
- Have a plan to get home safely. (a designated driver, public transit, call a friend or family member for a ride, call a taxi or ride share, or stay overnight).
- Tell your family and friends about your plan to get home safely.
- Do not over-indulge in alcohol or cannabis.
- Be sure to drink plenty of water.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist about side effects related to driving when using prescription medication (including combining with alcohol and/or cannabis).