Drinking and Driving in Ontario
When it comes to obeying the drinking and driving laws in Canada, knowledge is critical. Ontario has some of the strictest drinking and driving laws in North America and if you aren’t informed, you might find yourself in serious legal trouble. We have put together some critical information about drinking and driving in Ontario so that you can better understand your responsibilities when it comes to alcohol and driving.
What Every Driver Should Know
Understand What You Can Drink
Every body handles alcohol differently. Your size, what you have eaten lately and medications that you are taking can all affect how quickly your body processes alcohol. You need to understand your body and how much you can drink and still legally drive. Remember that in Ontario you can receive a road side suspension if you have a blood alcohol level that is higher than .05%. If you aren’t sure that you are under this limit, don’t drive.
Share the Burden of Being a Designated Driver
No one wants to be a designated driver every time, so share the load with your friends. If you have a plan before you start to drink you won’t be faced with the temptation to drink and drive. Before you start drinking think about how you will be getting home later that night. Even if you are only planning on having one drink it is still a good idea to have a back up plan just in case.
Don’t Sit Behind the Wheel if You Aren’t Fit to Drive
If you are intoxicated don’t even sit in the driver’s seat. The car doesn’t have to be moving to get in trouble for drunk driving. You can have trouble just for sitting in the front driver’s seat.
Ask Yourself How Medications Will Be Impacted by Alcohol
If you are taking any type of medication, over the counter or prescription, make sure you understand how alcohol will change the side effects. Sometimes medication can really enhance the effect of alcohol, so be very careful when taking medications and drinking.
Be Aware of the Potential Consequences
Drinking and driving is a serious offense. Charges will remain on your driving record for up to 10 years. You can face serious fines, a huge increase in your auto insurance premiums, driver’s license suspensions, impounded vehicles, mandatory alcohol education and more. If nothing else getting caught drinking and driving will take time, money and a lot of effort. It isn’t worth the risk.
Consequences Get Worse with Each Offense
While any drinking and driving offense is serious, you should also understand that the consequences will get more and more serious each and every time you are caught. For example if you are caught driving in the warm range, which is a blood alcohol level between .05% and .08% you can receive a 3 day road side suspension for the first offense, a 7 day road side suspension on the second offense and a 30 day road side suspension on the third offense. These road side suspensions are immediate, cannot be disputed or appealed. You will also face fines, court and other applicable punishments.
If a Law Enforcement Officer Asks for a Breath Test, You Must Comply
Many people don’t realize that you have to consent to breath alcohol testing if you want to drive. Law enforcement can ask you to take a test at any time and for any reason. You do not have the right to refuse and have to take this test. If you haven’t been drinking you will have no trouble passing, so don’t drink and drive.
Learner Drivers Have Even Stricter Rules
Did you know that learner drivers cannot have any alcohol in their blood, even if they are legally old enough to drive? Learning to drive is difficult and having a clear mind is essential. If you are just learning to drive and have a learners or a provisional license do not drink and drive. Being caught with alcohol in your blood can make it more difficult to get your full license later and can carry serious penalties. Also you must have a supervising driver with you. The supervising driver also has very strict alcohol rules. When you are learning to drive it is best to abstain from alcohol on nights that you want to practice your driving skills.
Ignition Interlock Devices are a Real Punishment
If you haven’t had any experience with an ignition interlock device you probably don’t understand what an inconvenience these can be. If you have to get a device installed it will cost you approximately $1,300. You will be unable to drive any vehicle without this device, which means no more borrowing cars from friends. Before you can start your car you will have to breathe into the device and then periodically as you drive. This device will be a permanent part of your vehicle and others that drive your car will have to use it as well.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Drinking and driving is a serious offense. Luckily it is entirely preventable. If you make plans before you start drinking and if you commit never to drive while under the influence of alcohol you won’t ever have to worry about facing any of these penalties or getting into trouble for drinking and driving. Make a commitment to yourself today to keep Ontario’s roads safe. If you are going to drink don’t drive.
Do your part to keep Canada’s roads safe.
Learn about the specific laws that apply to drinking and driving and find ways to observe them. Encourage others to avoid drinking and driving as well. You can make a difference in Ontario by understanding the laws and then encouraging others. This will keep you, your family and your friends safer on the road and will help you to avoid the consequences of drinking and driving.
Andrei Zakhareuski is the founder of Find-a-driving-school.ca. He has been writing for beginner Canadian drivers for several years.
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