Impaired Driving

In Ontario, drivers with a .08 Blood Alcohol Count (BAC) or more who refuse to provide a breath sample, or who are determined to be impaired following a drug recognition evaluation, will have their licence suspended immediately for 90 days. This is separate from any charges for a drinking and driving, or driving high, the driver may face. These drivers will also have the vehicle they are driving impounded for seven days. Impaired boaters face the same consequences as impaired drivers.

How to report someone consuming cannabis while driving?
Cannabis use in a vehicle is to be treated like using alcohol in vehicle. If you suspect the driver may be consuming cannabis and/or impaired, then it is recommended to call 911 to report the incident. In this case, a description of the vehicle, licence plate, driving habits, the whereabouts of the vehicle and a description of the driver if possible.

If the odour is unburnt - leaf cannabis - this may only be a violation of the Cannabis Act and may not be a priority call such as in excess of the personal exemption or improper storage in a conveyance. This scenario would be best reported to our non-emergency Police Reporting Unit online or by calling 613-236-1222, extension 7300. Although, if their driving habits suggest the driver may be impaired, call 911.

Minimum consequences for drivers convicted of impaired driving, driving with a .08 BAC or more, driving with over 5ng of THC, or refusing to provide a breath sample are:

  • One-year driver licence suspension (reducible to three months under certain circumstances).
  • One-year ignition interlock condition upon reinstatement (up to three years for repeat offenders)
  • $550 penalty
  • Back on Track program (alcohol assessment and education)
  • Minimum fine paid as part of federal consequences
  • Licence reinstatement fee
  • Increased insurance premiums ($5,000 annually for minimum three years)
  • Legal costs (if retained; paid to your own legal counsel)
  • Criminal Record
  • Repeat offenders face greater consequences and longer licence suspensions.

There is a zero tolerance requirement for drivers aged 21 and under, novice drivers (G1, G2, M1, M2), as well as commercial drivers. If those drivers violate the zero tolerance requirements, they face the same increasing penalties as drivers who have a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.05 or higher (warn range) or the drivers who fail a roadside sobriety test. 

First offence

  • 3-day licence suspension
  • $250 penalty

Second offence within 5 years

  • 7-day licence suspension*
  • Mandatory education program programs (for a second occurrence within 10 years)
  • $350

Third and subsequent offence within 5 years

  • 30-day licence suspension*
  • You must attend a mandatory treatment program (for third and subsequent occurrences within 10 years)
  • You will be required to use an ignition interlock device for at least six months (for third and subsequent occurrences within 10 years)
  • $450 penalty
  • You will need to have a mandatory medical evaluation that could result in an extended licence suspension. 

You will also face a $198 licence reinstatement penalty for each offence, and you may also be charged under the Highway Traffic Act.  If convicted you will face an additional suspension and a fine.

If you are a novice driver with a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence and your licence has been suspended three times for violating zero tolerance requirements for drugs and/or alcohol, you will have your licence cancelled and you will have to retake all of your driving tests.

Drug Impaired Driving is still Impaired Driving.

Too often, people who drink or get high think they are okay to drive because they only feel "buzzed." But you don't have to be falling down drunk to be a danger behind the wheel. Driving while being buzzed by drugs or alcohol can lead to devastating consequences.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), there are approximately 1,250 crash-related impaired deaths in Canada each year. This statistic illustrates the importance of working together. Collectively we can make a difference.

Ottawa Police continue to see impaired drivers in Ride ProgramOttawa and we are dedicated through enforcement and education to make our roads safer for everyone. The RIDE program (Reduced Impaired Driving Everywhere) is held several times a year.

Always arrange a safe way home and a backup plan in case you find yourself impaired or your designated driver has been drinking. Call a friend, a taxi, sleep over or take the bus home. 

Ottawa residents are encouraged to contact 911 when they see someone they believe may be driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Together, we can help everyone arrive alive.