What is considered impaired driving?
Under section 320.14 of the Canadian Criminal Code, impaired driving, also commonly known as DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while impaired or driving while intoxicated) means operating a vehicle while:
- having consumed alcohol or drugs, or a combination of the two,
- your ability was affected to any degree by alcohol or drugs.
A driver does not have to exceed the legal blood-alcohol, or blood-drug limit to be charged with impaired driving. The only requirement for a charge of impaired driving is that your ability to drive was affected to any degree, by alcohol or drugs, regardless of how much or how little was actually consumed.
Drivers who are found to be impaired by drugs will be subject to criminal charges that carry the same penalties as driving while impaired by alcohol.
It’s the beginning of summer, bringing vacations, longer days, barbeques and pool parties. During these months, you may find yourself having fun at a cookout or party, sharing laughs, good music and stories with friends over a couple of drinks. But, as the party winds down and people start to leave, you realize that you may be stumbling and slurring your speech a little. You can’t remember exactly how many drinks you’ve had, but you’re now faced with the decision of how to get home. Are you “okay to drive?” How do you judge? Unfortunately, this is a situation that may sound familiar to most people and adds into the common reasons people drink and drive.
For anyone who’s ever been convicted of and alcohol-related traffic violation, such as a DUI or DWI, the choice should be clear. Risking injury or death seems like a common sense reason to call a cab. Adding in attorney fees, fines, ignition interlock device installation, and even jail time, the real cost of drunk driving is one to always keep in mind in summer, and throughout the year. However, people still continue to drive drunk, and the reasons may be more involved than a “simple mistake.”
Common reasons people drink and drive may include:
• An alcohol-induced, altered state of mind and perception.
• A false sense of relaxation and confidence.
• Inability to judge physical limitations due to alcohol consumption.
• Embarrassment about being intoxicated and having to ask for a ride home.
• Inability to remember how many drinks have been consumed.
• Habitual drunk drivers may feel safe from ever being caught.
• An “auto pilot” state of mind, where normal, patterned behavior overrides critical thinking abilities.
• Alcohol reduces the ability of a person to judge his or her own sobriety.
Whatever the common reasons people drink and drive, the cost is clear. Any person who consumes alcohol should know his or her limits and have a plan for a safe ride home as necessary. A “one for the road” attitude invites tragedy and costs us all dearly.