Changes were made to the consequences for Criminal Code impaired driving offences as part of traffic safety law changes made June 27, 2014. The following are some common questions and answers to help you better understand these changes.
Questions and Answers
Is the issue of impaired driving in Saskatchewan becoming worse?
There are more people killed as a result of impaired driving in Canada than are murdered. Impaired driving is the main contributing factor in fatal collisions in Saskatchewan. Based on a five-year average (2010-2014), there are more than 1,300 collisions involving drugs or alcohol, resulting in 58 deaths and 656 injuries each year. In 2014, there were around 1,100 alcohol/drug-related collisions, resulting in 55 deaths and 530 injuries. By comparison, there were around 1,300 alcohol/drug-related collisions in 2013, resulting in 40 deaths and 606 injuries. Alcohol or drug use was a factor in 43% of fatal collisions in Saskatchewan in 2014. On average, 33% of alcohol-related crashes result in injury or death compared with 18% for all other crashes. Saskatchewan has the highest rate of impaired driving fatalities per capita in Canada. Impaired driving imposes significant costs on the provincial government and serious consequences on the victims of impaired drivers and their families. While the number of people killed in alcohol-related collisions in 2012 has decreased 38.5% since 2007, too many people continue to die in alcohol-related collisions and this is unacceptable.
Can I still have a drink with dinner?
Everyone must exercise personal responsibility when drinking. If you feel your ability to drive is affected, you should not drive.
The intent of these penalties is not to penalize those who chose an alcoholic drink at dinner*. The penalties are aimed at drivers who have consumed alcohol and it is affecting their driving. No one should drive a vehicle if they personally feel their ability is impaired, regardless of how much they have consumed.
* Responsible choices mean understanding your personal limits. For example, this statement is based upon a person with normal weight, height, tolerance to alcohol and metabolism of alcohol and who has a zero blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of the consumption.
A drink is considered to be a standard sized alcoholic beverage, which would be the equivalent of:
- 1 bottle of beer/12 ounces/341 millilitres at 5% alcohol by volume (5%v/v alcohol),
- one 5-ounce/142 millilitre glass of wine at 12% alcohol by volume (12%v/v alcohol) or
- 1.5 ounces/43 millilitres of hard liquor at 40% alcohol by volume (40%v/v alcohol)
What is the legal limit?
In Canada, the Criminal Code limit is anything over .08 BAC. This is the level at which Criminal Code impaired driving charges can be laid.
What are alcohol-related and non-alcohol related Criminal Code convictions?
Alcohol-related Criminal Code convictions are:
|253(1)(b)||Over 80 mg alcohol|
|254(5)||Fail to comply with demand|
|255(2)||Impaired driving (injury)|
|255(2.1)||Over 80 mg alcohol (injury)|
|255(2.2)||Fail to comply with demand (injury)|
|255(3)||Impaired driving (death)|
|255(3.1)||Over 80 mg alcohol (death)|
|255(3.2)||Fail to comply with demand (death)|
Non-alcohol related Criminal Code charges:
|220||Criminal negligence (death)|
|221||Criminal negligence (injury)|
|249(3)||Dangerous driving (injury)|
|249(4)||Dangerous driving (death)|
|249.2||Criminal negligence by street racing (death)|
|249.3||Criminal negligence by street racing (injury)|
|249.4(1)||Dangerous driving while street racing|
|249.4(3)||Dangerous driving by street racing (injury)|
|249.4(4)||Dangerous driving while street racing (death)|
|252(1)||Leave scene of accident|
|252(1.2)||Leave scene of accident (injury)|
|252(1.3)||Leave scene of accident (death)|
|259(4)||Drive while disqualified (CC)|
What happens if I am convicted of Criminal Code convictions (impaired, over .08 and refusal)?
If you are convicted under the Criminal Code for impaired driving, driving while over .08 or refusing a demand for a breath test (sections 253 and 254 of the Criminal Code of Canada) your driver's licence will be suspended and you will face other consequences such as being required to complete impaired driving education programs and participate in the Ignition Interlock Program. This also includes the above convictions including injury and death (section 255 of the Criminal Code) but the driver can only install the device once they have served their entire court-ordered prohibition.
I was convicted of a Criminal Code offence that was alcohol related before the new rules went into effect on June 27, 2014. Do I fall into the mandatory Ignition Interlock Program?
No, the new consequences only apply to convictions on June 27, 2014, or after that date. You will be placed into the old Ignition Interlock Program where installing the device is voluntary and you will not have to earn days like you will with the mandatory program. You will still have to complete all required programs and serve the mandatory prohibition periods before installing the device.
I was convicted of a Criminal Code offence that was alcohol related after January 1, 2017. The incident happened before that, in 2016. What are my consequences?
The law applies based on the conviction date. So if you are convicted after January 1, 2017, the new ignition interlock lengths will apply. Based on the conviction type, ignition interlock is required for:
Over .08 to .159 BAC
- 1st offence - 1 year
- 2nd offence - 3 years
- 3rd & subsequent - 10 years
I was convicted of a non-alcohol related Criminal Code offence. What must I do to get my licence back?
You will face the same suspension lengths as the alcohol-related Criminal Code offences.
You will receive a letter from SGI explaining the steps you must complete. You will be required to complete an impaired driving education program. After serving the court-ordered prohibition period you will be eligible to apply for restricted driving privileged through the Highway Traffic Board.
What are restricted driving privileges?
Please visit the Highway Traffic Board for more information.
Can I appeal a Criminal Code licence suspension?
Criminal Code convictions are appealed through the courts.
What will happen if I am driving while both impaired and disqualified and/or suspended?
In addition to receiving any relevant sanctions or charges for impaired driving, drivers will be charged with an offence of driving while disqualified and/or suspended. Depending on the circumstances, the penalty may be issued under the Criminal Code and/or Saskatchewan's Traffic Safety Act. If you are caught driving while disqualified and/or suspended, you will:
- receive an additional suspension, which will run consecutively to any other suspension on your driving record;
- have the vehicle you were driving seized and impounded for a period of 30 days; or
- have the vehicle you were driving seized and impounded for a period of 60 days if it is a 2nd offence and the vehicle seizure involves the same suspended/disqualified driver and same registered owner within a 2-year window.
If it's a 1st offence you may acquire a fine of $1,000 fine, each subsequent offence committed within 1 year will face imprisonment for up to 6 months from the day of finding guilt.
If convicted under the Criminal Code the offence may receive up to 5 years imprisonment.
Can I refuse to provide a breath sample?
If you refuse to provide a breath sample, you will be charged under the Criminal Code. Refusing to provide a sample is a Criminal Offence.
I was charged with impaired driving and I am using prescription drugs. Is this possible?
Yes. The definition of impaired is that you are impaired by using either alcohol or drugs. Drugs can be illegal drugs. prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Many prescription medications and over-the-counter medications warn drivers not to operate motor vehicles as these medications can have impairing affects.
What is a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST)?
Any number of tests used by law enforcement officers, usually on the roadside, to determine whether a driver is impaired. Most SFSTs test balance, coordination and the ability of the driver to divide his or her attention among several tasks as once. Other tests, such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, are used to measure a subject's impairment level.
What is Drug Recognition Evaluation?
A Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) is a specially trained law enforcement officer that has been trained to identify people who are impaired by drugs. This testing is scientifically validated and there are 12 steps that the DRE officer will have the driver perform to determine if the driver is impaired by drugs.
Can all-terrain vehicle operators be charged for drinking and driving?
It is against the law to drive an off-road or all-terrain vehicle when impaired by alcohol or drugs.
If the driver is impaired or has a BAC of more than 80 mg in 100 millilitres of blood (.08), or if the driver refuses to take a breathalyzer test, the police can lay a charge under the Criminal Code.
If convicted, the driver will have a criminal record and may be required to pay a fine. Drivers convicted will face the same consequences as those operating a motor vehicle.
What are off-road or all-terrain vehicles?
All terrain or off-road vehicles are any 2- or 3-wheeled motorized vehicles, as well as specific vehicles described by regulations with 4 or more wheels intended for recreational use.
All-terrain vehicle means a self-propelled vehicle that is designed primarily for the movement of people or goods on unprepared surfaces and has wheels in contact with the ground and includes vehicle such as:
- restricted use motorcycles
- all-terrain vehicles (ATVs)
Off-road vehicles include, but are not limited to:
- golf carts