A brief overview of PEI’s impaired driving laws
According to 2011 Stats Canada data, PEI is the province with the 2nd highest rate of impaired driving charges in the country. Nearly 25% of the adult criminal court case load in PEI involved impaired driving. Astoundingly, 93% of those cases resulted in a guilty verdict. Across Canada, young persons aged 20-24 are charged at the highest rate. The rate of impaired driving among female drivers has increased significantly to at least 1 in 6 persons charged. In 1986, only 1 in 13 persons charged with impaired driving was female.
Under Canada’s Criminal Code, you do not need to blow over 0.08 (representing 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood) on a breathalyzer to be criminally charged with impaired driving.
The Code says that a person may be charged if they operated a vehicle “while the person’s ability to (do so) is impaired by alcohol or a drug”, regardless of the volume of alcohol or drug detectable in the person’s system. A person may also be charged if they have “care and control” of a vehicle in circumstances that pose a realistic danger to persons or property. Individuals have been found guilty of a criminal offence for being found passed out at the wheel of a stationary vehicle.
If a police officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person has alcohol or a drug in their body, and that the person operated a motor vehicle at any time within the previous three hours, the officer may demand that the person provide a breath sample or perform a physical coordination test. Refusing to provide a breath sample will usually be inadvisable as it will often result in a criminal charge that can have the same consequences as blowing over the legal limit. Punishment for criminal impaired driving offences include a criminal record, jail time, driving prohibition, fines and more.
Under the law of Prince Edward Island,
drivers who are under age 19 or who have held a driver’s license for less than three years regardless of age are afforded zero tolerance for alcohol in the body while operating a motor vehicle. Blowing over 0.00 will result in an immediate 24 hour driving suspension and a 90 day driving prohibition. For adult drivers, blowing between 0.05 and 0.08 will likely not result in a criminal charge, but will result in an immediate driving suspension which increases in length for each subsequent offence.
The moral of this story is this: do not drink and drive. If you plan to drink, plan ahead. Arrange a place to stay, call a cab, or call a friend for a ride. The risks to yourself, your future, and others is too great. If you do find yourself charged with an impaired driving offence, contacting a lawyer at your first opportunity is an essential step to ensure that your rights are protected and that you will get a fair result.
Legal information appearing in this article and elsewhere on Key Murray Law’s website is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for or replace any legal or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require legal advice, you should consult directly with one of our lawyers.