Last Updated: December 10, 2010
Choosing to drive after drinking or using drugs, and subsequently being pulled over by the police, begins a chain of events that can have long-lasting and life-altering consequences. In addition to facing possible fines and jail time, drunk or drugged drivers face driving bans imposed by SGI and under both federal and provincial law.
SGI will impose an administrative suspension of the drivers' licence of any person who has been charged with impaired driving, being over .08, refusing a breath test or refusing to do a field sobriety test. Their licence will be suspended for 90 days. There will be an immediate 24 hour suspension, followed by a 7 day grace period to get their lives in order. After that, the 90 day suspension of their driver's licence will begin.
In addition to immediate roadside suspensions, when a person is convicted of a criminal driving offence both the court and SGI impose further bans on driving.
Under the federal Criminal Code, the ban for a first offence is for at least one year, and can be for as long as five years (no injuries or death caused). A second offence means a minimum ban of two years. Any further offences will result in a ban of three years. The length of the driving ban is in addition to any term of imprisonment that is part of the offender's sentence.
Where the offence involves injury or death and has a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, the court can order a driving ban under the Criminal Code for any period that it feels is proper. This could mean a lifetime ban from driving. If the offender faces a maximum jail term of more than five years but less than life, the ban can last as long as 10 years. In any other case, the maximum ban is three years.
Under provincial law, drivers convicted of Criminal Code driving offences are automatically suspended from driving - one year for the first conviction, three years for the second conviction, and five years for the third conviction or any further convictions. The suspensions apply for convictions within a five-year period. As these minimum periods of suspension are greater than the minimums under the Criminal Code, it is important to note that a driver cannot drive until the longer suspension expires.
For example, suppose a person has been convicted of a second "over .08" offence, and the judge orders a driving ban of two years. Under provincial law, the driver's licence is automatically suspended for three years. This means that the person cannot drive for the entire three years. Similarly, if a judge orders a two-year ban on a first conviction, this would override a minimum one-year licence suspension under provincial law.
Additionally, drivers must complete the addictions screening and treatment recommended by an addictions counsellor before getting back on the road. The addictions screening consists of a counsellor screening for chemical dependency. Once that is completed, the counsellor can recommend an addictions recovery plan and treatment program, and provide a referral for the Driving Without Impairment (DWI) course or recovery program. The DWI course is designed to educate drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving, to show them alternatives, and to teach them safe driving skills.
As well people who drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can find themselves without insurance coverage if they are involved in accidents. This means that a drinking driver would not receive any payment for damage to their own vehicle. The drivers and passengers of other vehicles involved in the accident may not be affected, however. These people may be compensated for their injuries or damages. The drinking driver, however, can be made to repay this amount to the government insurance plan. Until the driver pays this money back, they may not be able to get the insurance coverage that is needed to drive.ISBN/ISSN number: 1918-1728