Driving under the influence is a terrible idea; you’re putting your own life, and the lives of others, at risk. Every day, an average of 3.5 Canadians are killed by impaired driving.  That’s why Manitoba has steep penalties for drivers with who drive while impaired; by having harsh consequences, the government aims to curb bad behaviour. The legal risks that come with a conviction may be less severe than loss of life, but they can still end up with the convicted person going to jail.

There are a number of immediate consequences that can occur when an individual is pulled over by a police officer under suspicion of impaired driving. When on a breath screening test you register a warn or fail, you have a blood alcohol concentration of equal to or over .05 (if you have a standard driver’s license), you fail a physical coordination test or the officer believes you are too impaired to even begin a physical or breath test, your license can be suspended on the spot.  The time frames of suspension vary significantly depending on circumstance: if the officer deems you incapable of completing the tests, your license will be suspended for 24 hours. Should you get a “warn”, your license will be suspended for 3 days unless there’s someone under 16 years of age in your car, in which case the suspension will be for 7 days. This is assuming it’s the first time you register a warn in the last 10 years; the more often it happens, the longer the suspensions.

Your vehicle can be suspended for even longer under certain circumstances, mainly if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is found to be over .08, or if you refuse to comply with testing requirements. In these circumstances, the immediate suspension lasts 3 months. When your license is suspended, you cannot drive on or off road, your car may be taken and stored at your expense, and you may be obliged to take an impaired driver’s assessment, again at your expense.

Immediate consequences aside, a criminal conviction for impaired driving can result in fines, long‐term and permanent license suspensions, and jail time. There are mandatory minimum penalties of $1000 for first conviction, 30 days jail time for a second conviction and 120 days for subsequent convictions. License suspensions scale up from 1 year to permanently, depending on the frequency and severity of violations of the law. Convictions will also lead to an ignition interlock device being installed in the convicted person’s vehicle, essentially a breathalyzer that stops the car until an alcohol‐free breath sample is provided; these devices also retest as you continue down the road.

Immediate suspensions and criminal convictions can come with serious financial and social ramifications; if you feel you’ve been treated unjustly, or are facing such a conviction, an experienced DUI lawyer is the best way to fight the charges. Given how much money you can lose if convicted, it’s well worth it to call for a free consultation.