I’ve been charged for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. What do I need to know?

2. Understand what the Crown has to prove

In every criminal case, the Crown must prove at least four things:

  1. Identity: you're the person who committed the crime.
  2. Jurisdiction: the crime took place where the police say it did.
  3. Date: the crime took place when the police say it did.
  4. Elements of the crime.

For driving offences, the Crown must also prove one of these things:

  • Your ability to drive is even slightly affected by alcohol or drugs or both.
  • You have too much alcohol, cannabis, or certain other drugs in your blood.
  • You refused to provide a breath sample to check for alcohol or a body-fluid sample to check for drugs.
  • You did not blow into a breath machine properly. For example, pretending to blow into the machine.

Legal limits for alcohol

For most drivers, the legal limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. That's why the crime is sometimes called Over 80. If the police measure your blood-alcohol at 80 milligrams or more, you have committed the crime, even if the alcohol isn't affecting your ability to drive.

If the police measure your blood-alcohol level between 50 milligrams and 79 milligrams, this is considered a warning range. It is not a crime, but:

  • your licence will be suspended for up to 30 days
  • you'll have to pay a $281 fee to get your licence back
  • you'll pay a fine up to $450
  • you may have to attend a treatment program

For these situations, the legal limit is 0 milligrams of alcohol:

  • drivers aged 21 or under
  • drivers with G1, G2, M1 or M2 licences
  • drivers of large, commercial trucks and similar equipment

Legal limits for drugs

Driving with any amount of these drugs in your body is a crime:

  • LSD
  • Psilocybin
  • Psilocin
  • PCP
  • 6-Monoacetylmorphine
  • Ketamine
  • Cocaine
  • Meth

The legal limit for THC, which is the drug associated with cannabis or marijuana, is 2 nanograms of THC per 1 millilitre of blood.

The legal limit for GHB, commonly called the “date rape” drug or “Liquid X”, is 5 milligrams of GHB per 1 litre of blood.

Limits for combination of drugs and alcohol

It is a crime to drive with this combination of alcohol and THC:

  • 50 milligrams or more of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, plus
  • 2.5 nanograms of THC per 1 millilitre of blood

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt

The judge can only find you guilty if they are certain about everything the Crown must prove. That means the Crown must prove identity, jurisdiction, date, and every element of the crime.

If the judge is not completely sure about even one of these things, the judge cannot find you guilty. This is known as “proof ”.

It is not enough for the judge to think that you're probably guilty, or that you're likely guilty. They must be certain about everything the Crown must prove.

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