Driving at or Over 0.08 BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration)



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    Being charged with driving at or over 0.08 BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) in British Columbia can drastically alter your life’s trajectory. The emotional toll can be significant, as you grapple with the potential repercussions on your personal life and professional future.

    A key step in this process is understanding the legalities. The Criminal Code of Canada details how it categorizes this offence and outlines the potential penalties that a conviction may carry. This knowledge can provide a solid footing as you navigate this difficult time.

    The enormity of the situation might feel overwhelming – especially since the complexities associated with BAC offences pose unique challenges. For this reason, you must consider having a lawyer with extensive experience in handling these types of cases on your side.

    What Does It Mean to Drive at or Over 0.08?

    Driving at or over 0.08 BAC refers to operating a motor vehicle while having a Blood Alcohol Concentration that equals or exceeds 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood, or 0.08%. It’s a serious offence in Canada, including British Columbia, and could lead to severe consequences.

    What is the Relevant Section Under the Criminal Code?

    The law that governs driving with a BAC of 0.08 or more is embedded in the Criminal Code of Canada, specifically under Section 320.14(1)(b).

    The specific language of the law indicates that it is an offence for anyone to operate a motor vehicle if their Blood Alcohol Concentration is 0.08 or more within two hours of driving.

    The two-hour window is significant.

    It means that you could potentially face charges even after you’ve stopped driving if your BAC tests at 0.08 or higher within this period.

    So, the law is quite stringent in its aim to deter impaired driving and holds individuals accountable for maintaining a BAC below the legal limit during and after driving.

    What are the Penalties for Driving at or Over 0.08?

    Driving at or over 0.08 BAC is a serious offence, and the penalties for this violation under the Canadian law are severe. These penalties escalate with each repeat offence.

    First-Time Offence

    For a first-time offence, a driver can expect a minimum fine of $1,000. This fine serves as the baseline financial penalty, but the actual amount could be higher depending on the circumstances of the case. Along with the fine, the convicted person may face a driving prohibition for a period of at least 1 year.

    Second-Time Offence

    When it comes to a second-time offence, the penalties increase notably. The law stipulates a minimum jail time of 30 days for those found guilty. Furthermore, there is a mandatory driving prohibition that extends to 2 years. This means the convicted person will not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle for this period.

    Third time and Beyond

    The penalties continue to ramp up for third and subsequent offences. If convicted for a third time or more, the individual will face a minimum of 120 days in jail. The driving prohibition for these cases extends to at least 3 years.

    You must understand that these are the minimum penalties.

    Judges have discretion to impose harsher penalties based on the specifics of each case. For instance, if an impaired driving offence resulted in bodily harm or death, the consequences would be significantly more severe.

    How does Driving at 0.08 Affect My Driving Record?

    A conviction for driving at or over 0.08 BAC will have a significant impact on your driving record. The offence will be noted on your record, which is maintained by the Motor Vehicle Branch of the BC Ministry of Transportation.

    It can also lead to an automatic driving prohibition, influence your insurance rates through the Driver Risk Premium, affect penalties for any future traffic violations, and may even impact potential employment opportunities that require a clean driving record.

    So, this conviction has substantial, long-lasting effects beyond immediate legal penalties.

    Impact on Insurance: Driver Risk Premium

    When determining your insurance premiums, insurers consider your driving record. A conviction for driving with a BAC of 0.08 or higher is seen as a high-risk behaviour, which can lead to increased insurance premiums. This is due to the increased likelihood, from the insurer’s perspective, of you being involved in an accident.

    You may also be subjected to the Driver Risk Premium (DRP) program by ICBC (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia). This is an additional penalty on top of your regular insurance premiums and is applied to drivers who have one or more driving-related convictions.

    Can I Refuse a Breath Analysis?

    Given these severe consequences, it is highly advised not to refuse a breath analysis in Vancouver when asked to do so by law enforcement.

    Refusing to blow into a breathalyzer when demanded by a police officer pursuant to a lawful demand is a criminal offence. This is often referred to as “failing to provide a breath sample”, and is covered under sections 320.27 and 320.28 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

    If you are convicted of this offence, the consequences are substantial. You could face a minimum fine of $2,000, a one-year driving prohibition, and a criminal record.

    What if I have a Learner (L) or a Novice (N) License?

    If you hold a Learner (L) or Novice (N) license, also known as a Class 7 or Class 7N license in British Columbia, the regulations regarding alcohol consumption are strict.

    These drivers, as part of the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP), must maintain a zero blood alcohol content (BAC) level when operating a motor vehicle. This means even a BAC below 0.08 could result in penalties.

    In addition to facing the standard penalties under the Criminal Code for this offence – such as a fine, possible jail time, and driving prohibition – there are further consequences within the GLP.

    A Learner or Novice driver could receive a driving suspension or prohibition from the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, and the period of time they must remain at the L or N stage of licensing could be extended.

    Moreover, such an offence will affect their Driver Improvement Program (DIP) points, and it could result in remedial programs or additional prohibitions.

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    Understanding What a 0.08 Blood Alcohol Concentrain Means

    Blood Alcohol Concentration, or BAC, is a measure of the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. It is typically expressed as a percentage. For example, a BAC of 0.08 means that there are 0.08 grams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood in your body.

    The limit of 0.08 BAC is a common legal threshold for impaired driving in many jurisdictions, including Canada. It’s important to understand that having a BAC at or over 0.08 is not a guideline for safe or responsible drinking before driving.

    Instead, it’s the level at which you’re legally considered to be driving under the influence and can be charged with a criminal offence.

    At a BAC of 0.08, an average person usually displays definite signs of impairment. These might include poor muscle control, slower reaction times, and impaired judgment, memory, and reasoning.

    Driving at or over this limit is illegal because it significantly increases the risk of causing an accident/

    How Many Drinks is 0.08?

    The amount of alcohol it takes to reach a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 can vary greatly between individuals.

    It’s influenced by a number of factors, including body weight, sex, how quickly the alcohol is consumed, the presence of food in the stomach, and individual metabolic differences.

    On average, for a man weighing around 160 pounds, it typically takes about 3 to 4 standard drinks consumed in one hour to reach a BAC of 0.08. A standard drink in Canada is generally considered to be:

    • A 12-ounce beer with an alcohol content of 5%
    • A 5-ounce glass of wine with an alcohol content of 12%
    • A 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor such as vodka, tequila, with an alcohol content of 40%

    For women, because of physiological differences including body fat percentage and water content, it typically takes fewer drinks to reach the same BAC level.

    However, these are only estimates.

    How is BAC Dependent on Body Weight?

    In general, a person who weighs more will have a lower BAC after consuming the same amount of alcohol as someone who weighs less.

    This is because a person with more body mass has more water in their body that can dilute the alcohol. Alcohol distributes itself in water-containing tissues after consumption, and as larger individuals have more water in their body, the alcohol gets distributed in a greater volume, leading to a lower BAC.

    However, it’s crucial to understand that even if your weight is higher, it does not mean that you can safely consume more alcohol if you’re planning to drive. Impairment can start at low levels of BAC, and the only safe BAC level while driving is zero.

    What Defences Could My 0.08 BAC Lawyer Use?

    If you’re facing charges of driving with a BAC at or over 0.08, a lawyer can explore several avenues in your defence, although the approach will vary depending on the specific details of your case.

    Being Over the Limit While Driving:

    A lawyer may scrutinize the timing and accuracy of the breath or blood tests. In some cases, your BAC may have risen above the legal limit after you stopped driving due to the continued absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. This is known as the “bolus drinking” or “last drink” defence.

    Breathalyzer Tests Being Done Correctly:

    A key part of your defence may involve challenging the breathalyzer test’s administration and reliability. This could involve arguing that the device was not properly calibrated or maintained, that the test was not administered correctly, or that the officer did not have the proper training or certification.

    Rights to a Lawyer:

    If your Charter rights were violated during the arrest or investigation process, it could form a critical part of your defence. For example, if you were not promptly informed of your right to counsel, or if a request to speak with a lawyer was not properly facilitated, any evidence obtained may be excluded from the proceedings.

    Plea Bargains:

    Depending on your circumstances, your lawyer might negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution. This could involve you pleading guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence. This might be a suitable approach if the evidence against you is strong, and other defences are unlikely to succeed.

    Remember, each case is unique and complex, and these potential defences are not guaranteed to apply or succeed. It’s crucial to work closely with your lawyer to understand the best approach for your specific situation.

    Contact Sarah Leamon Law Today

    Facing charges related to driving at or over 0.08 BAC can be a daunting and stressful experience. It can leave you with questions and uncertainty about what the future holds. Sarah Leamon Law understands this, and is here to help you navigate this challenging time.

    Our legal team is focused on providing comprehensive and clear guidance tailored to your unique circumstances. We’re dedicated to defending your rights, advocating for your best interests, and working diligently to reach the most favourable outcome possible for your case.

    Don’t navigate this process alone. If you or a loved one is facing charges for driving at or over 0.08 BAC in Vancouver, contact Sarah Leamon Law today. Let our experienced team provide the legal support you need to address these charges effectively and confidently.

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