Your Holiday Guide to DUI Enforcement



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    Your Holiday Guide to DUI Enforcement

    If my blood alcohol is below 0.08, is it legal for me to drive?

    As late December approaches, holiday get-togethers, office parties, and family gatherings mean a rise in alcohol consumption for many of those who are celebrating. Unfortunately, with an increase in libations, there is the risk that some may get behind the wheel after having a few too many.

    While it is unsafe – not to mention illegal – to drive while impaired, many have questions about what it really means to drive while impaired, and how to prevent it.

    The criminal threshold for impaired driving offences starts at a blood alcohol concentration of eighty milligrams percent.  This means that drivers with a blood alcohol concentration under eighty would not be charged with this offence. 

    They could – however – face other criminal sanctions, such as dangerous driving or impaired driving, depending on the circumstances.  An impaired driving charge does not necessarily require any evidence of blood alcohol concentration.  Behaviour and symptoms of impairment could be enough.  Plus, if the driver’s behaviour departs from that expected of a reasonable driver to a significant degree, they could end up being charged for dangerous driving…not to mention the myriad of offences under non-criminal administrative schemes for impaired driving. 

    Under provincial laws, drivers can face license suspensions between three and ninety days, even with blood alcohol concentrations under the limit established by criminal law. 

    Certainly not the holiday gift you were hoping for!

    It’s Just a Quick Drive, I Won’t Get Caught

    At this time of year, the risk of being caught driving for drinking and driving are greater than any other time of year.  The most obvious reason or this is that there are more roadblocks at this time of year. 

    Police officers are keeping a very close eye out and impaired driving enforcement is in full effect. 

    Traffic Services Units and Detachments throughout the province are implementing their respective enforcement plans to counteract those driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In November, the RCMP did a media release about their CounterAttack program, which is a month-long program aiming to stop impaired drivers over the holiday season.

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    This means enforcement units are on the lookout more than any other time of the year.

    And remember – a quick drive is still a drive. It does not matter how far you are going. Distance is not a mitigating factor. Moreover, in some cases, people have been charged in circumstances where they were not driving at all, but simply found in their motor vehicles in an impaired or intoxicated state.

    So if you’re thinking about drinking and driving – you’d better think twice. 

    But If I Feel Fine to Drive, I Have Nothing to Hide

    This is another common misconception.

    Often, a person may feel that they are not impaired in spite of an elevated blood alcohol concentration. It is also important to remember that alcohol clouds our judgment. It impairs our abilities at most things, including the ability to assess ourselves in an accurate manner.

    Moreover, with new criminal laws in effect, police officers now have increased powers at the roadside.

    Most notably, officers have the authority to demand breathalyzer tests from any driver they pull over, in almost any circumstances. This means they can demand a breath sample even if you have said you have not had anything to drink and are not exhibiting any of the usual signs of symptoms of alcohol impairment.

    The results of breath tests can be used to either arrest a person, and issue criminal charges, or to give out hard-hitting administrative sanctions on the roadside. 

    It is largely within the officer’s discretion to charge a person criminally or administratively when they blow a ‘fail’ on a roadside device.  The reading on the device, in combination in the circumstances of the traffic stop and the driver’s police history will determine how things unfold.

    But no matter what, it’s not going to be merry and bright.

    How Do I Know I’ve Had Too Much?

    Your blood alcohol concentration will depend on a myriad of factors, which are very difficult to determine in the moment.   For example, how much you have had to drink, what you’ve had to drink and how fast you’ve drank it will factor in.  Your weight and biological sex will also play factors, in addition to medication or other intoxicants.

    While a toxicologist could figure out your blood alcohol concentration using a complex mathematical formula, there is no magic eight-ball for impairment. 

    If you feel the effects of alcohol – even in the slightest degree – the best rule is to play it safe and stay away from the drivers’ seat of a motor vehicle.

    And for novice drivers, the limit is zero. 

    Learners and Novice drivers in this province are subject to a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to alcohol and driving.   For those people, criminal charges and administrative sanctions may not be the end of the story.  Even those well-below any established legal limits could face violation tickets for contravening licensing conditions and further license suspensions.  

    The truth is, without testing, you simply cannot know if you are over the legal limit in the moment.

    Even if you have had only one drink, you could face consequences, including but not exclusive to vehicle impoundments and license suspensions.

    The only way to ensure you will not encounter these consequences, and keep your fellow road-users safe, is to refrain from driving if you have had any alcohol at all.

    So, play it safe this holiday season, and don’t gamble with drinking and driving.

    If you have received a driving prohibition, administrative charge or criminal charge, though, you will have your best chance moving forward by seeking legal advice. Sarah Leamon Law Group has extensive expertise when it comes to this area of law and would be happy to help.

    Сall the lawyers at Sarah Leamon Law Group to learn how they can help.

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