Alcohol and the law
If you are going to drink, plan ahead and don’t drive.
A conviction for impaired driving can cost $20,000 to $25,000. You can lose your license. You can go to jail. Financial, legal and social problems can result from alcohol use. Know the laws and abide by them.
Far too many people have been hurt or killed on our roads. Laws have been written to reduce this risk. The bottom line is if you are going to drink, plan ahead and don’t drive. If you are a host, plan ahead and only allow safe choices for your guests. Below is a simple review of laws as they exist in Ontario.
Novice drivers and those under 21
Novice drivers and those 21 years of age and under cannot have any alcohol in their bloodstream while driving. If they do, they can receive an immediate 24-hour roadside driver licence suspension and, if convicted, will face a fine of $60 to $500 and a 30-day licence suspension. Novice drivers can also be suspended as per the Novice Driver Escalating Sanction scheme, up to and including cancellation of the novice licence. They may also have to return to the beginning of the graduated licensing program.
Fully licensed drivers found with alcohol in their system will face immediate roadside licence suspension for:
- refusing a breath test
- registering a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 or more
In addition, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is more than 0.08, or you fail or refuse to comply with alcohol or drug testing, you can be convicted under the Criminal Code. Individuals convicted for driving offences face penalties under the Criminal Code of Canada and the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.
In addition to the above, vehicles will be impounded if:
- drivers are caught driving with a licence suspension (45 days)
- they refuse to have breath testing (7 days)
- their blood alcohol level is more than 0.08 (7 days)
- they drive without the Ignition Interlock, when required to do so from a previous conviction
Regardless of whether the vehicle is rented, leased or loaned to a friend or family member, the vehicle will be impounded. The owner will be liable for all towing and impoundment costs. The Ministry of Transportation offers more information on their Vehicle Impoundment Program.
Similarly, you may not be driving your car, but you can still lose your licence.
Planning to Host an Event and Serve Alcohol?
As the home or business host of an event where alcohol is served, you can be held partially responsible if your guest leaves your event intoxicated and causes property damage, injures or kills himself or injures or kills another person.
Protect Yourself and Your Guests
- Serve alcohol yourself or hire a SmartServe-trained bartender.
- Keep non-alcoholic beverage within reach of guests.
- Serve foods higher in fats or protein to slow down the absorption of alcohol.
- Refrain from making alcohol use the focus of your event.
- Make arrangements for overnight accommodations for guests who drink alcohol.
- Provide transportation options for guests.
By planning ahead when you serve alcohol, you can reduce the risks for your guests and yourself.
This item was last modified on September 21, 2016