Driving At or Over 0.05 BAC



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    Being charged with driving at or over 0.05 BAC in Vancouver can be a distressing event. Suddenly, you find yourself grappling with potential legal repercussions that can disrupt not only your personal life but also your professional standing.

    You must comprehend the law’s view on this offence, the possible consequences upon conviction, and why you need a committed lawyer at your side to help you through the process.

    At Sarah Leamon Law, we understand the stress and confusion that comes with such a charge. We’re here to offer support, to clarify the legal process, and to help you understand your rights and options.

    What is Driving At or Over 0.05 BAC?

    Driving at or over 0.05 BAC refers to operating a motor vehicle when your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is at or above 0.05%. BAC is a measurement of the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream.

    A BAC of 0.05 means that there are 0.05 grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of your blood.

    What are the Rules Around 0.05 BAC

    The rules around driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.05% are governed by the Motor Vehicle Act of BC. According to this legislation, a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08 is considered to be in the “warn range.”

    If you are stopped by law enforcement and your BAC is found to be within this range, it’s not considered a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada, but it does carry provincial penalties.

    According to the Motor Vehicle Act, these include an immediate roadside prohibition, which could be for three, seven, or thirty days, depending on the driver’s record of previous prohibitions.

    In addition to the prohibition, you could face fines, vehicle impoundment, and responsible driver program and ignition interlock requirements. All of these could lead to significant costs and inconveniences, as well as potential impacts on your insurance premiums.

    It’s essential to understand these rules and the potential consequences of driving with a BAC of 0.05% in BC. If you find yourself facing these penalties, legal assistance can help guide you through the next steps.

    What Happens if I Blow Over 0.08 BAC?

    If you blow over 0.08 BAC, the situation becomes more serious. You’re no longer in the “warn range”; you’re now in violation of the Criminal Code of Canada, which carries harsher penalties and potential long-term implications.

    As per Section 320.14(1)(b) of the Criminal Code, it’s a criminal offence to operate a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at or over 0.08 within two hours of driving. This means you could be charged with impaired driving, even if two hours have passed since you were behind the wheel.

    When a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe you’re over this limit, they can immediately suspend your driver’s license and seize your vehicle. You’ll be issued an immediate 90-day Administrative Roadside Prohibition (ARP) on your driving privileges.

    In addition to this, you could be charged criminally, leading to a court process. If found guilty, you could face additional penalties, such as fines, further driving prohibitions, mandatory education programs, and even imprisonment in severe cases.

    Being charged with driving over 0.08 BAC can also have long-lasting impacts, including a criminal record, which could affect employment prospects and international travel.

    As a result, if you’re facing such charges, it’s strongly advisable to contact a lawyer who can provide guidance and help you understand your rights and options.

    What are the Penalties for Driving at or over 0.05?

    The penalties for driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at or over 0.05%, in the “warn range,” are immediate and consequential, increasing with subsequent offences.

    First Time Offence:

    For a first offence within a 5-year period, you will face an immediate 3-day driving prohibition and a $200 monetary penalty. Additionally, you will be responsible for a $250 licence reinstatement fee.

    Second Time Offence:

    For a second offence within a 5-year period, the penalties become more severe. You will face a 7-day driving prohibition, a $300 monetary penalty, a $250 licence reinstatement fee, and your vehicle may be impounded for 7 days, leading to additional towing and storage charges.

    Third Time Offence and Beyond:

    For a third and subsequent offences within a 5-year period, you will face a 30-day driving prohibition, a $400 monetary penalty, a $250 licence reinstatement fee, and your vehicle may be impounded for 30 days. You may also be referred to the Responsible Driver Program and may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle at your cost.

    How Does Driving at or Over Affect My Driving Record?

    Driving with BAC at or over 0.05% can significantly impact your driving record. These offences, even though they are not criminal under the Criminal Code of Canada, are recorded on your driving record held by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).

    How Does Driving at or Over Affect My Insurance?

    Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) sets insurance premiums based on a number of factors, including driving records. If you have violations like an immediate roadside prohibition on your record, it can lead to higher premiums.

    Each violation adds points to your driving record. ICBC uses a system called the Driver Penalty Point (DPP) premium, where drivers with more points pay more. A driving prohibition will appear on your driving record and could potentially affect your DPP.

    While it’s difficult to calculate exact amounts as it depends on your specific insurance policy and driving history, you can generally expect to see your insurance costs go up after receiving an immediate roadside prohibition.

    Can I Refuse a Breath Analysis?

    Refusing to comply with a lawful demand from a police officer to provide a breath sample is a serious offence under Canadian law.

    Under sections 320.27 and 320.28 of the Criminal Code of Canada, failing to provide a breath sample when required to do so by a law enforcement officer carries similar penalties to those of driving at or over 0.08 BAC.

    If convicted, you could face a minimum fine of $2000, a minimum one-year driving prohibition, and a criminal record. In some circumstances, you could also face imprisonment, especially for subsequent offences.

    Refusing the breath test can also be seen as an admission of guilt in court, as a judge may infer that you refused the test because you believed you were over the limit.

    So, it’s generally not advisable to refuse a breath analysis when requested.

    What Happens If My BAC is 0.05 and I have a Learner (L) or Novice License (N)?

    For drivers holding a Learner (L) or Novice (N) license in British Columbia, the rules around blood alcohol concentration (BAC) are even more strict compared to fully licensed drivers. This is due to the zero-tolerance policy for alcohol and drugs in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP).

    As an L or N driver, you must maintain a BAC of zero when driving. This means that if you’re stopped by law enforcement and found to have any alcohol in your system, including a BAC of 0.05 or below, you could face penalties.

    For a first offence, you would receive a 12-hour suspension from driving and a notation on your driving record. If your BAC is in the “warn range” of 0.05 to 0.08 or higher, you could face immediate roadside prohibitions ranging from three to 90 days, fines, vehicle impoundment, and costs related to license reinstatement.

    Additionally, repeat offences could delay your progression through the GLP and lead to longer driving prohibitions.

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    Understanding Blood Alcohol Concentration at 0.05

    Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is a measure of the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. It’s expressed as a percentage. For example, a BAC of 0.05 means that there’s 0.05 grams of alcohol in every 100 milliliters of blood.

    How Many Drinks is That?

    The exact number of drinks that equates to a BAC of 0.05 can vary widely depending on a number of factors including your gender, weight, metabolism, and the rate at which you’ve been drinking.

    However, as a very rough guideline, for a man weighing about 160 pounds, it could be approximately 2 standard drinks in one hour on an empty stomach.

    How Many Beers, Shots or Glasses of Wine?

    A “standard” drink in Canada contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in:

    • 341 milliliters (12 ounces) of beer with 5% alcohol content
    • 43 milliliters (1.5 ounces) of liquor with 40% alcohol content
    • 142 milliliters (5 ounces) of wine with 12% alcohol content

    So, the number of beers, shots, or glasses of wine that could raise your BAC to 0.05 can vary, but it could be approximately 2 standard drinks for an average-sized man.

    How Does BAC Vary for Females?

    BAC can often rise more quickly in females than in males. This is due to a variety of factors including typically lower body weight, a higher percentage of body fat, and different enzyme activity. Therefore, it generally takes fewer drinks for a woman to reach a BAC of 0.05 than a man of the same weight.

    How is BAC Dependent on Body Weight?

    As a general rule, the less you weigh, the more you will be affected by a given amount of alcohol.

    Since body weight is one of the factors that affect how quickly alcohol is metabolized, a person who weighs less will generally have a higher BAC after consuming the same amount of alcohol as a person who weighs more.

    That being said, weight is only one factor and BAC can vary widely between individuals, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

    What Defences Could My 0.05 BAC Lawyer Use?

    When facing charges related to driving with a BAC of 0.05 or higher, you should understand the potential defences that a lawyer might employ.

    Questioning the Validity of the Over Limit Charge

    One common defence strategy involves questioning the validity of the charge itself. For instance, the lawyer may scrutinize the circumstances leading up to the arrest, including the reason for the initial traffic stop.

    If the police did not have a valid reason to pull you over, any evidence obtained during the stop, including your BAC level, could potentially be dismissed.

    Challenging the Accuracy of Breathalyzer Tests

    Another defence strategy focuses on the accuracy and administration of breathalyzer tests. Breathalyzer devices must be properly maintained and calibrated to ensure accurate results.

    Additionally, the individual administering the test must be adequately trained. If there are any discrepancies in these areas, the breathalyzer test results may be deemed unreliable and could be dismissed.

    Asserting the Right to Legal Counsel

    The right to legal counsel is a fundamental right in Canada. If you were not given the opportunity to speak with a lawyer in a timely manner after your arrest, this could constitute a violation of your rights. In such cases, a lawyer would argue for the dismissal of the charges based on this violation.

    Negotiating Plea Bargains

    In some cases, negotiating a plea bargain may be the best course of action. A plea bargain involves pleading guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence.

    Remember, every case is unique, and the best defence strategy will depend on the specific circumstances of your situation.

    Contact Sarah Leamon Law Today

    If you or a loved one are facing charges related to driving with a BAC of 0.05 or higher, it’s essential to seek legal counsel promptly. The team at Sarah Leamon Law is here to help.

    With a deep understanding of the complexities of the Canadian legal system and a commitment to providing robust defence strategies, we are prepared to stand by your side.

    We understand the stress and uncertainty that come with facing such charges. That’s why we strive to provide clear, comprehensive legal advice tailored to your unique situation. Our team will work tirelessly to protect your rights and advocate for your best interests.

    Don’t navigate this challenging time alone.

    Reach out to Sarah Leamon Law today for a consultation. We are ready to listen, advise, and act in your defence.

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    If you have a criminal case, driving matter or family law issue in BC or Alberta, please call or e-mail Criminal Lawyer for a free consultation.