Alcohol and Drug Related Driving Prohibitions and Suspensions

Alcohol- and drug-affected driving are a leading cause of death on the roads. Police are trained to recognize the effects of alcohol and drugs on drivers. They have the discretion under the Motor Vehicle Act to serve driving prohibitions or licence suspensions in order to remove alcohol- and drug-affected drivers from the road.

 

12-hour Roadside Suspensions  - Only for Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) Participants

12-hour roadside suspensions apply to Graduated Licensing Program (GLP) participants only.

If a GLP driver has any presence of alcohol, THC or cocaine in their body, they may be served with a 12-hour suspension.

What happens

  • You must surrender your driver’s licence and you may not drive until the suspension period is over and you retrieve your licence from the police station
  • After the suspension is over, novice (N) drivers in the GLP program start over at the beginning of their 24-month (N) licensing period. Learners (L) must reattempt all testing

Other consequences

  • As part of the Driver Improvement Program (DIP), the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles automatically reviews your driving record and may issue you an additional driving prohibition if your record proves unsatisfactory. For more information visit Driver Improvement Program
  • Additionally, if you are found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) not less than 50 milligrams (mg) of alcohol in 100 millilitres (mL) of blood (0.05 BAC) or to be affected by drugs, you will face the regular consequences fully-licensed drivers face

For more information, visit Driving While Affected by Drugs or Alcohol

Requesting a review

There is no review process available for 12-hour Roadside Suspension issued by police to GLP drivers. 

  • If you disagree with the actions of police, you can lodge a complaint with the police detachment identified on the 'Notice' you were given by police

If police have reasonable grounds to believe that your ability to drive is affected by alcohol or drugs and you had care or control of a vehicle, police issue you a 'Notice' of a 24-hour driving prohibition.

What happens

  • You must surrender your driver’s licence and can only retrieve it at the end of the prohibition period
  • The driving prohibition starts immediately upon service, and remains in effect for a full 24 hours
  • It is not necessary for police to request
    • A breath sample using an Approved Screening Device to determine Blood Alcohol Concentration, or
    • That a driver submit to a prescribed physical coordination test

Where a prohibition is served in relation to alcohol

  • You may ask police to test your BAC on an Approved Screening Device if you believe your ability to drive is not affected by alcohol

Where a prohibition is served in relation to a drug

  • You may ask police to submit you to a prescribed physical coordination test if you believe your ability to drive is not affected by a drug

Other consequences:

Requesting a review

If an officer has reasonable suspicion that a driver may be affected by alcohol, or if an officer has in their possession an Approved Screening Device (ASD), they may, by demand, require a driver to provide a sample of breath on an ASD, to determine a driver's Blood Alcohol Concentration.

If the officer intends to issue a IRP

  • The officer is required to offer you a second opportunity to provide a sample of your breath into a different ASD – if the results differ, the lower of the two results will prevail

What happens

If the device reads WARN (Your breath sample contains a BAC of not less than 0.05) police may:

  • Seize your driver’s licence
  • Issue you a 'Notice of Prohibition' which will start immediately – removing your driving privileges – the length of which depends on prior IRP convictions (if any)
  • 3-day driving prohibition if it is the first time caught in the warn range
  • 7-day driving prohibition if it is the second time caught in the warn range within five years; or
  • 30-day driving prohibition if it is the third time caught in the warn range within five years

If the ASD reads FAIL (If your breath sample indicates a BAC not less than 80 milligrams, or if you refuse to provide a breath sample), police may:

  • Seize your driver’s licence
  • Issue you a 'Notice of Prohibition' which will start immediately – removing your driving privileges for 90 days
  • Alternatively, you may be served an Administrative Driving Prohibition, and/or charged criminally under the Criminal Code of Canada for Impaired Driving

For more information visit Immediate Roadside Prohibition Program and Immediate Roadside Prohibition Penalties

Other Consequences:

  • For 3 and 7-day prohibitions, vehicle impoundment is discretionary (decided at the roadside)
  • For 30 or 90-day prohibitions, vehicle impoundment is a mandatory 30-day impoundment period)
  • Participation in the Ignition Interlock and Responsible Driver Program may be required for 30 and 90-day prohibitions
  • There are additional monetary penalties

Requesting a review

There are several types of ADPs.

ADP Types

A police officer may serve you with an ADP in situations where:

  • A person had a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) equal to, or exceeding, 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
  • A person had a Blood Drug Concentration (BDC) equal to, or exceeding, the amount prescribed for that drug, under the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations (MVAR), within two hours of operating a motor vehicle
  • A person had a combined BAC and BDC equal to, or exceeding, the amount prescribed under the MVAR in instances where alcohol and that drug are combined, within two hours of operating a motor vehicle, or
  • A person operated a motor vehicle while the person’s ability to operate the motor vehicle was impaired by a drug, or a combination of alcohol and a drug, as determined by an evaluation by a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE)
  • A person failed or refused, without a reasonable excuse, to comply with a demand under section 320.27 or 320.28 of the Criminal Code, in respect of the operation of a motor vehicle

Evaluation Methods

Blood Drug and Blood Alcohol Concentrations

Prescribed Blood Drug Concentrations (BDC) for an ADP served under s.94.1 (a.1)

Levels
Item Drug Concentration
1 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 5ng/mL of blood
2 Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) Any detectable level
3 Psilocybin Any detectable level
4 Psilocin Any detectable level
5 Phencyclidine (PCP) Any detectable level
6 6-Monoacetylmorphine Any detectable level
7 Ketamine Any detectable level
8 Cocaine Any detectable level
9 Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) 5mg/L of blood
10 Methamphetamine Any detectable level

Combined Prescribed Blood Drug Concentrations (BDC) and Blood Alcohol Concentrations (BAC) for an ADP served under s.94.1 (a.2)”

Combined Blood Alcohol and Blood Drug Concentrations
Drug Alcohol Concentration Drug Concentration
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 50 mg/100 mL of blood 2.5 ng/mL of blood

Drug Recognition Expert evaluation (DRE) for an ADP served under s.94.1 (a.3)

An evaluation conducted by a Drug Recognition Expert consists of the following tests and procedures:

  •   A preliminary examination, which consists of measuring the pulse and determining that the pupils are the same size and that the eyes track an object equally
  •   Eye examinations, which consist of:
    • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test

    • The vertical gaze nystagmus test

    • The vertical gaze nystagmus test

    • The lack-of-convergence test

  • Divided-attention tests, which consist of

    • The Romberg balance test

    • The walk-and-turn test

    • The one-leg stand test

    •  The finger-to-nose test, which includes the test subject tilting the head back and touching the tip of their index finger to the tip of their nose in a specified manner while keeping their eyes closed

  • An examination, which consists of measuring the blood pressure, temperature and pulse;
  • An examination of pupil sizes under light levels of ambient light, near total darkness and direct light and an examination of the nasal and oral cavities
  • An examination, which consists of checking the muscle tone and pulse
  • A visual examination of the arms, neck and, if exposed, the legs for evidence of injection sites

Other Consequences

  • If you are charged under the Criminal Code of Canada, you will have to attend court
  • If convicted, you will face other criminal conviction driving prohibitions
  • In addition you will have to pay a Driver Risk Premium

Requesting a Review

It is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada to drive while impaired by alcohol, drugs or a combination of both. It is also an offence to drive above the criminal threshold of 0.08 BAC, or with a blood-drug concentration equal to or exceeding a prescribed value.

Police may charge you under the Criminal Code of Canada as being impaired by drugs, alcohol or both or for refusal or failure to provide breath, blood, saliva, and/or urine samples and/or perform a physical coordination test. If you are convicted in court, you will receive:

  • Upon your 1st Conviction — a 1-3 year driving prohibition (plus minimum $1000 penalty)
  • Upon your 2nd Conviction — a 2-5 year driving prohibition (plus minimum 30 days imprisonment)
  • Upon your 3rd Conviction — a minimum 3 year to-lifetime driving prohibition (plus minimum 120 days imprisonment)

For more information, visit the Government of Canada's Impaired Driving Laws

Other sanctions

 

Driver’s Licence Reinstatement

If you wish to drive after the prohibition period, you have to visit an ICBC Driver Licensing Office to apply and pay for the reinstatement of your driver’s licence. Visit Getting your Driver’s Licence Back to find out how.