Amendments to the Highway Safety Code will result in changes to some of the information on this page. To learn more about the Code’s new provisions and the dates the amendments will come into effect, please refer to the highwaysafetycode.gouv.qc.ca microsite.
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
False sense of security and control
Difficulty maintaining a constant speed
Slower reaction times
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.
Highway Safety Code
Immediate licence suspension: 24 hours or 90 days (depending on the situation)
Immediate vehicle seizure and impoundment: 30 days (depending on the situation)
Following a criminal conviction
Licence revocation: 1 or 3 years (depending on the situation) or longer (depending on the decision of the court)
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
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 suspension of your Class 4C licence for 24 hours
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
The police officer will assess whether it was possible for the person to drive the vehicle and whether he or she intended to drive.
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.
Licence suspension for 90 days
Vehicle seizure and impoundment for 30 days or 90 days
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: