I’ve been charged for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. What do I need to know?
There are three main categories of driving crimes involving alcohol and drugs:
- Impaired driving
- Driving with more than the legal limit of alcohol or drugs in your blood
- Refusing a test to check for alcohol or drugs
To learn more about driving offences, see the “Alcohol and Drugs” subtopic on the Steps to Justice website.
Impaired Driving is when your ability to drive is affected by alcohol or drugs. It doesn't matter if you only had a small amount of alcohol or drugs. If your ability to drive is even slightly affected, you have committed the crime.
Driving with more than the legal limit in your blood
Even if the alcohol or drugs in your body aren't obviously affecting your ability to drive, there are still legal limits for how much alcohol or drugs you can have in your body while driving.
It can be a crime to drink alcohol or take drugs, and then try to drive somewhere quickly before your blood fully absorbs the alcohol or drugs. If your blood goes over the legal limit within two hours of when you stop driving, you have still committed a crime.
Refusing a breath test or drug test
It is a crime to:
- refuse to blow into a breath machine to check for alcohol
- not blow into a breath machine properly, for example, pretending to blow into it
- provide a body-fluid sample to check for drugs
If you commit this crime, the law considers it the same as if you have the highest amount of alcohol in your body. This means you could potentially get the highest possible .
Sentences and penalties
For these driving crimes, the penalties can include:
- fines and jail time: see this table for more details
- licence suspension
- a $281 fee to get your licence back
- an immediate fine of $550
- vehicle impounded
- attend an alcohol treatment program
- use a special breath device to turn on your vehicle
- get a medical evaluation to see if you're fit to drive