Holidays, Alcohol and Roadblocks


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The holidays are here and they often come with lots of partying, lots to drink…and roadblocks! Here is some information to help you spend your time with loved ones instead of at a police station!



During the holidays, the police are allowed to stop drivers at roadblocks. Making a U-turn to try to avoid the roadblock will only make the police more suspicious.  


Tests for Blood-Alcohol Levels

The police can take a preliminary breath sample from a driver if they have reason to think the driver has been drinking. They use an approved screening device that gives them an idea of how much alcohol is in the driver’s blood. Refusing to give a breath sample is a crime. Drivers who refuse face the same penalties as those who drive under the influence of alcohol.

The police can also test drivers’ coordination to see if they’re able to drive.

Important! Drivers 21 years and under and drivers with a learner’s licence or a probationary licence are not allowed to drive after drinking alcohol, even in small amounts. Their licence could be suspended, they could receive demerit points, and they could face a fine.


0.08 -  Not the Same as Impairment

It’s a crime to drive with a blood-alcohol level over 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood (the famous “0.08”). This level is measured at the police station, usually by taking a breath sample using a more accurate device. Even if the driver has good reflexes and coordination, driving with a blood-alcohol level over 0.08 is still a crime.

It’s also a crime to drive while impaired. When it comes to driving, “impaired” means that a person’s ability to drive is decreased because of alcohol, medication, drugs or a combination of these things. Drivers can be charged with impaired driving even though their blood-alcohol level is less than 0.08.

Drivers with a blood-alcohol level over 0.08 or who are impaired are committing a crime if they have the "care and control" of a vehicle. With a few rare exceptions, you’re not even allowed to sit in the driver’s seat if you’re impaired.


If You Get Caught

If you’re found guilty of impaired driving, it can be very serious. You could be fined, lose your driver’s licence, go to jail and end up with a criminal record.

See Éducaloi’s articles on drinking and driving and driving while impaired.