Pursuant to section 253 of the Criminal Code of Canada, impaired driving or over 80 occurs either, when you are operating a motor vehicle, assisting in the operation of a motor vehicle, or you are in care and control of a motor vehicle. It should be noted that this section also applies to the operation of a vessel, aircraft or railway equipment. Moreover, while the offence of over 80 deals specifically with alcohol, the offence of impaired driving involves the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or some combination of both alcohol and drugs.
It should be noted that the Crown Attorney does not need to prove an intention to drive on the part of an accused to establish he or she is in care and control of the vehicle. Where a person engages in an act or series of acts that may result in the vehicle being set into motion causing danger to the public, that person is deemed to be in care and control of the vehicle. Read more about being in care and control of a motor vehicle.
A conviction of impaired driving or over 80 can have significant personal and financial consequences. Simply being charged with either impaired driving or over 80 will result in an automatic licence suspension of 30 days.
For a first conviction, the mandatory minimum penalty for either impaired driving or over 80 is a $1,000 fine. Where the Crown Attorney proceeds summarily, the maximum fine is $2,000, while there is no maximum fine where the Crown Attorney proceeds by indictment. Also, a blood/alcohol reading exceeding 160 milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood is considered to be an aggravating factor which can increase the possibility of being subject to a fine higher than the minimum amount.
If you receive a second conviction for either impaired driving, over 80 or refusing to provide a sample, there is a mandatory penalty of 30 days in jail, and a further mandatory minimum of 120 days in jail for each subsequent offence. The maximum penalty for impaired driving or over 80 is 18 months in jail upon summary conviction, and a maximum of 5 years in jail where the offence is prosecuted by indictment. Where a person is convicted of impaired driving or over 80 and in committing the offence causes an accident resulting in bodily harm to another person, the maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment. Where an accident causes the death of another person, the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.
Pursuant to section 41(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, a conviction for impaired driving or over 80 also carries a mandatory 1 year licence suspension for a first conviction, a 3 year licence suspension for a subsequent conviction within a 10 year period of the previous conviction, and upon a third conviction with 10 years of the subsequent conviction, your licence will be suspended indefinitely. If your licence is suspended indefinitely, you cannot apply to have your licence reinstated until 10 years have passed since your previous conviction, and you have not had any other driving offences in that 10 year period.