Impaired Driving: Important Things to Know

July 18, 2018 by Chris Bibey

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious mistake that can alter your life in a number of ways.

From a legal perspective, an impaired driving conviction can result in a fine, community service, and even time in jail.

While most people understand that impaired driving is against the law, they’re unsure of the affect it has on their ability to drive.

Alcohol can greatly reduce your ability to quickly react to every day situations you face on the road. From double vision to slowed reflexes, even one drink increases the likelihood of causing an accident.

Illegal drugs and prescription medications can be just as dangerous, as they also affect your reaction time, judgment, and motor skills.

Tip: you may assume it’s okay to take a prescription drug and drive, but you shouldn’t do so before you understand the potential side effects and discuss them with your medical team.

Are You an Impaired Driver?

The best way to avoid impaired driving is to never get behind the wheel after taking any type of drug (illegal or prescription) or drinking alcohol.

As long as you adhere to this guideline, you never have to concern yourself with this type of trouble on the road.

Simply put, impaired driving comes down to one thing: operating a motor vehicle while your ability to do so has been affected by consuming illegal drugs, prescription mediation, and/or alcohol.

As a fully licensed driver in Canada, the maximum legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is set at 0.08. So, driving with a BAC of 0.08 or above is against the law.

Are You in Ontario?

If you’re driving in Ontario, you need to understand the definition of “warn range.”

If your BAC is between 0.05 and 0.08 you fall within the warn range, which means you can still face serious consequences.

The Penalty for Impaired Driving

As a first time offender, you can expect to pay a fine as high as $600. Additionally, you could face consequences such as:

•    The installation of an ignition interlock device
•    Auto insurance rate increase
•    Required treatment program attendance
•    Criminal record, which can impact your current employment or ability to land a job

Repeat offenders face harsher penalties. For example, a second offence can result in the above, along with 30 days in jail.

For those on their third offence (or more), a jail sentence of four months or longer is not out of the question.

The Impact on Auto Insurance

In Ontario, all drivers are required to maintain auto insurance.

With a perfect (or near perfect) driving record, you’re in position to secure a comprehensive policy at an affordable rate.

Conversely, if you have a DUI conviction on your record, it will impact your ability to not only secure coverage, but to do so at a reasonable rate. Adding to this, if you're involved in an accident and convicted of DUI, the insurance company will not provide coverage on your policy.