Page last updated: July 10, 2018
Canada: Drink Driving Regulations

The Federal government has withdrawn proposals to lower the legal BAC limit. Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould proposed in mid-2017 to reduce the national blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit from 0.8 mg/ml to 0.5 mg/ml, and opened discussions on the topic with her provincial and territorial counterparts and other stakeholders.

A spokesperson for Wilson-Raybould has since confirmed that while “lowering the federal limit would better respond to the danger posed by impaired drivers, by sending a strong message through the criminal law and by changing drivers’ behaviour, there are no plans at this stage to introduce legislation to do so.”

The Department of Justice will instead focus on progressing the government’s current impaired driving bill, which will be introduced in tandem with draft legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana. A Senate committee is currently reviewing the bill, which would empower police officers to require blood or breath samples from drink- or drugdriving suspects, and the spokesperson expressed confidence that “Bill C-46” will be “highly effective in changing driver behaviour.”

While there were various stakeholder concerns regarding the proposal, a briefing package on regional authority and stakeholder concerns prepared for Wilson-Raybould at the end of 2017 advised that the change would create an additional burden of the justice system.

The heavily-redacted document, obtained through a freedom of information (FOI) request, also stated that the reduced BAC limit would be unlikely to increase the number of prosecutions as it was “unlikely that police will be able to process significantly more criminal impaired driving cases, as they have a finite amount of time per shift to process cases and lay charges.”

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