Understanding The Punishments Of Impaired Driving

Throughout the world, there are a number of traffic acts and laws in place to protect drivers by limiting the amount of alcohol allowed within the body while operating a vehicle. However, most drivers do not bother to familiarize themselves with these rules and regulations until they find themselves having been incarcerated for violating them. Another aspect of these laws that drivers don’t often know is that they apply to a number of forms of transportation, including motor vehicles, railway equipment, boats, and aircrafts. It’s important to take the time to learn the consequences of impaired driving in order to better avoid being in a situation where you incur legal consequences.

License Suspension

If you are pulled over and the officer suspects that you have been drinking, he or she will most likely ask you to take a breath test. This is done by exhaling into a tube attached to a small device designed to measure the concentration of alcohol in your blood. While the legal limit for driving is 0.08, there is a chance that you will still face legal consequences for driving impaired. For instance, a level of 0.05 is considered a warning and can lead to a suspension of your license. The same consequences apply to a failure of a physical coordination test. Knowing the immediate consequences of driving under the influence is the best way to avoid legal action.

For a blood alcohol content between 0.05 and 0.08, the immediate consequences are as follows:

  • First Offense
    • 24 hour suspension of license.
  • Second Offense (In A Ten Year Period)
    • 15 day suspension of license
  • Third Offense (In A Ten Year Period)
    • 30 day suspension of license
  • Fourth Offense (Or More Within A Ten Year Period)
    • 60 day suspension of license

If your blood alcohol level is registered above 0.08, your license will be suspended for 3 months. A suspended license pertains to all vehicles both on and off road, including air and water crafts. If you refuse a breathalyzer, physical coordination test, or blood sample, you may incur an immediate 3 month suspension of your license and vehicle impoundment.

Refusing a Breathalyzer

Drivers who refuse to take a breath test or provide a blood sample face stricter consequences than those who have a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08. The consequence for a first offense alone is a 2 year suspension of your driver’s license. A second offense will get you a 7 year license suspension, a third offense is a 10 year license suspension, and a fourth offense within 10 years of prior offenses leads to a lifetime suspension.

Penalties & Sentencing

If you have been convicted of impaired driving, you are faced with the following legal action:

  • First Offense
    • 1 year suspension of license
  • Second Offense
    • 5 year suspension of license
  • Third Offense
    • 10 year suspension of license
  • Fourth Offense
    • Lifetime suspension if within 4 years of priors

In Case of Harm or Death

If you have been convicted of impaired driving that has resulted in the harm or death of another person, you will be faced with a suspension of your license. For a first offense, the penalty is a 5 year license suspension. The penalty increases to 10 years for a second offense and a lifetime suspension if the third offense is within 10 years of your prior offenses. You may also be required to forfeit your vehicle if your impaired driving results in the bodily harm or death of another person, or if you have three Criminal Code driving offenses in a 5 year period.

In Manitoba, as with other parts of the world, there are different laws for drivers who have fewer than 5 years of driving experience. The biggest difference in impaired driving laws for these individuals is that they may not operate a vehicle with ANY amount of alcohol in their system. The minimum consequence for these individuals when driving impaired is a 24 hour license suspension and mandatory attendance of a hearing with Driver Improvement and Control in order to establish any further consequences.

Re-obtaining your suspended license means paying a $50 fee in addition to driving course and exam fees that can range from $40 to $170.

Mandatory Alcohol Education

If you have received a 3 month suspension on your license, or two or more lesser suspensions, you will be required to participate in an alcohol abuse assessment and further education. In Manitoba, these assessments are performed by the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba for $625, which you will be required to pay. During the assessment, you’ll need to answer questions about your drinking habits. This will lead to a corresponding treatment program that best meets your needs, ranging from a single day workshop to ongoing inpatient counseling. However, it is rare that first time offenders receive any jail time. Your second offense will come with a minimum of 30 days in jail, with an additional 120 days being added for each additional offense.

Additional Conditions & Consequences

Your first offense will come with a hefty fine of $1000, in addition to any license suspension, possible jail time, and vehicle impoundment that you may be faced with. Even after your suspension has been lifted, you will be required to use an ignition interlock device for a minimum of one year. With this device in place, you will be required to provide a breath sample with no traces of alcohol in order to start your vehicle. If you are caught behind the wheel of a vehicle without this device, you could face a fine of $5000 and jail time up to one year.

If you are caught driving impaired, you also risk your vehicle being impounded. You will then be required to pay the towing and impound fees in order to regain your vehicle. The approximate cost of a 30 day impound is $450, and $900 for 90 days. You may also incur higher driver’s license premiums and insurance fees in the future.

Facing a charge for impaired driving also means that you could be looking at a mark on your record. In criminal cases, this can mean difficulty finding future employment and additional jail time and fines for any future offenses. For DUIs and other criminal charges, it is always best to seek the guidance of an experienced DUI lawyer in Winnipeg, who will be able to help you find your best defense options in order to achieve the best possible result for your particular case.