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What Are the DUI Laws in Canada?

Last updated: Thursday, 20, August 2020

There are many different names for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Often, it is referred to by law enforcement professionals as 'driving while intoxicated' (DWI) or 'driving under the influence' (DUI). In Canada, law enforcement officials use the latter more commonly. DUI is not limited to driving while under the influence of alcohol. Any mind-altering substances like Cannabis, prescription medication (such as painkillers), and so on may impair an individual's ability to drive and are, therefore, illegal to use while driving.

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There are two sections to the Canadian code for driving under the influence. Part (a) of section 253(1) makes it illegal to operate aircraft or railway equipment or have any kind of 'care or control' over a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or train. 'Care or control' is actually a complicated legal concept, but essentially, an individual does not have to be driving to be responsible for a vehicle while he or she is intoxicated (either alcohol or other substances). Essentially, when a person enters a vehicle and is intoxicated, he or she must not take any steps that may result in the vehicle becoming dangerous to anyone else. Even falling asleep in the driver's seat can be cause for prosecution in Canada, unless the individual can prove that he or she had no intention of starting the car while being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Section 253(1) (b) of the same code makes it illegal for an individual to operate any vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or train while his or her blood-alcohol content, or BAC, is above 0.08. Police and other law enforcement professionals are allowed, under Canadian law, to test the blood-alcohol content of individuals whom they feel may be operating a motor vehicle or any of the other types of vehicles laid out in this code. This is the main test which results in arrest for DUI in many cases.

How can I be charged with a DUI?

When a law enforcement officer stops someone, he or she suspects of driving under the influence, there are a few different techniques the officer can use to verify if one needs to be charged with DUI. First, the law enforcement official can use physical observation to assess whether he suspects the individual of driving or operating some other motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

There are different levels of punishment for individuals who commit DUI offenses in Canada. For a first offense, an individual may have his or her license suspended for twelve months and face a $1000 fine. A second DUI offense carries a 30-day jail sentence and a 24-month prohibition on an individual's license. A third offense carries a 120-day jail sentence and a 36-month prohibition on an individual's license. If someone is hurt or killed as a result of an individual's intoxicated driving, then the jail term is a maximum of ten years for the former and a life sentence for the latter.

If you do face criminal charges as a result of driving under the influence, there are steps you or your family can take to make the situation better. These services exist to give individuals with drug and alcohol problems the opportunity for a new and better life, outside of their DUI charges.



Nickolaus Hayes - Author

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