Modes of Transportation - In an Automobile

Drinking and Driving: Impairment and Consequences

Alcohol impairs your ability to drive as of the first drink. If you drink and drive, you are putting your life and the lives of others at risk, and you are also exposing yourself to serious legal consequences.

The effects of alcohol on driving

  • Increased risk-taking
  • False sense of security and control
  • Difficulty maintaining a constant speed
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Slower reaction times
  • Sudden movements
  • Poor coordination
  • Drowsiness

You can be arrested if:

  • you are over the legal limit of 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (0.08)
  • your ability to drive is impaired by drugs or alcohol, even if your blood alcohol concentration is below 0.08
  • you refuse to obey the orders of a peace officer, such as the order to breathe into an alcohol-screening device or to perform physical coordination tests

Legal consequences of drinking and driving

Below are some of the possible legal consequences of drinking and driving. This is only an overview and penalties may vary based on the number of offences and the blood alcohol concentration, among other things.

Penalties for a 1st offence

  • Immediate licence suspension for 90 days
  • Minimum fine: $1,000
  • Criminal record
  • Licence revocation for 1 or 3 years
  • Program to assess and reduce the risk of impaired driving (in French only)
  • Alcohol ignition interlock deviceA device that prevents a vehicle from starting when it detects the presence of alcohol in the driver’s body., depending on the situation
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Penalties for a 2nd or subsequent offence

  • Immediate licence suspension for 90 days
  • No minimum fine
  • Vehicle seizure and impoundment for 90 days
  • Imprisonment for 30 days, or for 120 days or more if the accident caused injury or death
  • Licence revocation for 3 to 5 years
  • Program to assess and reduce the risk of impaired driving (in French only)
  • Alcohol ignition interlock deviceA device that prevents a vehicle from starting when it detects the presence of alcohol in the driver’s body. for 2 years, 3 years or for life
  • Possibility of prohibition from registering, purchasing, renting or leasing a vehicle, or from operating a vehicle registered under your name, depending on the number of offences committed and the blood alcohol concentration

See the What the Law Says section for a detailed description of costs and penalties.

Useful information

The cost of drinking and driving

  • 1st offence: from $1,700 to $10,100
  • 2nd offence: from $5,700 to $12,600
  • 3rd offence: from $3,200 to $8,700 (+ alcohol ignition interlock deviceA device that prevents a vehicle from starting when it detects the presence of alcohol in the driver’s body. for life)

To the above costs can also be added lawyer's fees, higher personal automobile insurance premiums, and the difficulties and costs involved in travelling to the United States because of a criminal record.

See the What the Law Says section for more information on costs and possible penalties.

Traffic offences you commit outside Québec follow you... back to Québec

Québec has entered into reciprocal agreements with Ontario, Maine and the State of New York.

Any offences leading to demerit points that you commit in those jurisdictions are entered on your driving record at the SAAQ, exactly as if those offences had been committed in Québec.

Penalties for not obeying the zero alcohol rule that applies if you are...

Under 22 years of age or if you hold a learner's licence or a probationary licence

  • Immediate licence suspension for 90 days
  • demerit points
  • Fine of $300 to $600

A taxi or limousine driver

  • Immediate suspension of your Class 4C licence for 24 hours
Useful information

Care or control of a vehicle

The law not only prohibits impaired driving, but also having the care or control of a vehicle while impaired. Here are some situations that can have the same consequences as impaired driving:

  • sitting in the driver’s seat, even if the vehicle is stopped or broken down
  • being in the vehicle (even asleep on the back seat) and having the possibility of starting the engine
  • being near the vehicle, for example to brush snow off the car or put things in the trunk

Refusal to obey a peace officer

Refusing to breathe into an alcohol-screening device or to perform physical coordination tests automatically results in the stiffer penalties provided for under the Criminal Code and the Highway Safety Code.

Penalties

  • Licence suspension for 90 days
  • Vehicle seizure and impoundment for 30 days or 90 days
  • Minimum fine of $1,000
  • Criminal record
  • Licence revocation for 3 years
  • Program to assess and reduce the risk of impaired driving (in French only)
  • Obligation to operate only a vehicle equipped with an alcohol ignition interlock deviceA device that prevents a vehicle from starting when it detects the presence of alcohol in the driver’s body. for 2 years

Simple and effective alternative solutions

Only time can eliminate the effects of drugs and medication, so plan accordingly! To get around, you can:

A pact for life

Sign a pact for life (PDF, 357 KB)This file does not meet Web accessibility standards. (available in French only) with your friends or family. In the pact, each person promises not to drive while impaired and offers their services to go and get the other person at any time.

Myths and facts

Do you think you know a fool-proof trick for rapidly lowering your blood alcohol concentration? Read about drinking and driving myths and facts.