Driving Under the Influence and Its Consequences

Among the more serious traffic violations you can be convicted of is a DUI, or driving under the influence. It is also sometimes referred to as DWI (driving while impaired or intoxicated). If you are caught behind the wheel with a blood alcohol level in excess of the provincial limit, you will face very serious consequences. Laws across Canada have become much more serious over the past few decades to make drinking and driving a major offence that will have an impact on your license and your insurance rates.

What Constitutes a DUI?

While most people think of a DUI as involving alcohol, but in truth it can include a variety of drugs both legal and illegal. Any time you get behind the wheel with your judgment impaired as a result of a substance you are using, you can face DUI charges. Alcohol is the most common substance for which drivers in Canada receive DUI charges. You can be charged with a DUI when behind the wheel of any motor vehicle including a boat or snowmobile as well as a car.

In Canada, the legal limit for alcohol is .08. This means that your blood alcohol level, of BAC, can not exceed 80 mg per 100 ml of blood. There is no set number of drinks that will result in this amount; even one drink can put many drivers over the limit. A BAC between .05 and .08 can also result in charges. If you are a driver on a graduated license system and not a fully licensed driver, such as a G1 or G2 in Ontario, your blood alcohol must be zero when driving. The zero level also applies to drivers under 21 in many provinces.

You can be charged with a DUI with or without a breathalyzer test, and refusal to take the test is a violation on its own. If a police officer has good reason to believe you are intoxicated based on their own judgment, they can proceed with DUI charges even in absence of breathalyzer proof, so avoiding the test does not mean you can't be charged.

Consequences of a DUI Charge.

Each of Canada's provinces has their own laws in regards to how a DUI charge is approached. In some provinces a DUI results in an immediate and automatic suspension of your license. Fines and even jail sentences may accompany DUI charges depending on the severity of the situation and the circumstances surrounding the charges. If you are involved in an accident while impaired, especially if someone is hurt or killed, the consequences will be severe. Multiple DUI charges over time will result in increasingly more serious consequences.

DUI charges will have a major impact on your insurance rates. Because a DUI is considered to be a serious traffic violation, it carries the highest repercussions both in terms of legal and insurance response. Although the amount of the increase will depend on your previous driving record and your insurance company's policies among other factors, you can expect the rate increase to be relatively large.

Driving under the influence is seen as one of the most serious violations on the road, and the law is very harsh when it comes to this type of offence. The best policy is to avoid driving at all if you have had anything to drink. Using a designated driver, public transportation or a taxi are the best options if you plan to drink while you are out. The legal and insurance ramifications are not the worst possible consequences of driving while impaired; it is among the most common factors in fatal car crashes. Staying sober when you have to drive is always the best policy.

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