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null Impaired driving: what you need to know

Impaired driving: what you need to know

Driving when you’re impaired by alcohol, drugs, or fatigue can have serious human and financial consequences. Even if you think you’re OK to drive—it just isn’t worth the risk!

The rise of impaired driving

Impaired driving remains the most significant criminal cause of death in Canada1. In 2019, the Canadian police services reported over 85,000 cases of impaired driving incidents, making it the highest rate in almost 10 years.2

Impaired driving awareness campaigns are key to address public perceptions and help keep our roads safer. That’s why programs like arrive alive DRIVE SOBER® work tirelessly to educate the population and help implement programs to eradicate impaired driving.

The human and financial cost

Impaired-related collisions can cause considerable property damage. Further, they can cause irreparable harm to both people and their families.

But even when nobody is killed or injured in a collision, an alcohol-impaired driving conviction can have life-altering impacts.

  • Your driver’s licence will be immediately suspended. Following your conviction, it will be revoked for a minimum of one year.
  • On top of having your licence suspended, you will have to pay a minimum fine of $1,000.
  • Add to that the legal fees, extra insurance impacts and in some cases the cost of installing an alcohol interlock device.
  • An impaired driving conviction means you’ll likely pay more for car insurance.
  • It’s also worth noting that entering the United States might be more complicated with an impaired driving conviction.

It’s also important to note that drug-impaired drivers face the same types of penalties as drunk drivers: loss of licence, fine and fees, a criminal record, and, in some cases, jail time.3

True of false—beware of myths about alcohol!

One drink an hour keeps you under the limit of 80 mg/100 ml (or 0.08%)


For this to be true, you’d need to metabolize alcohol faster than the average person. A bottle of 5% beer will produce a blood-alcohol level of about 22 mg/100 ml for a 190 lb man and about 33 mg/100 ml for a 150 lb woman.4 Most people can metabolize about 15 mg/100 ml of alcohol per hour.5 Also, your blood alcohol will continue to increase after your last drink, reaching its peak about an hour later.

There’s nothing you can do to sober up faster


  • You’ve heard all the tricks—take a cold shower, drink strong coffee, have an energy drink, run or dance around—but in reality, there’s nothing you can do to speed up how fast your body metabolizes alcohol.

The 0.08% alcohol limit doesn’t cover everything


  • Even if your blood-alcohol level is below 80 mg/100 ml (or 0.08%), your driving could still be impaired, especially if you’re tired, stressed, sick, or taking prescription medication.
  • The police can still arrest drivers with a blood-alcohol level below the legal limit if they show obvious signs of being impaired. Roadside coordination tests have proven to be a good indicator of impairment.

Think prevention

arrive alive DRIVE SOBER® reminds us that prevention is the key. To avoid the risks of driving while impaired, they recommend planning ahead for a safe ride home. Once you are impaired, it’s too late to be thinking clearly and making these important decisions.

Having a designated driver, using public transit, staying overnight, taking a taxi, or calling a friend or loved one are all options you may want to consider.

What can parents do?

  • Make sure your children understand the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You can also help them avoid the risks by offering to pick them up after an evening out.
  • Make sure your children have money to take a taxi home.
  • Remind your children never to get into a car if the driver has been drinking or taking drugs.

What can hosts do?

  • At the risk of looking like a party-pooper, ask your guests if they have a designated driver. If you think one of your guests isn’t fit to drive home, offer to pay for a taxi or ask them to spend the night.
  • Make sure you also offer food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Want to find out more? Visit the Drug-Impaired Driving Learning Centre.


1. https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/sidl-rlcfa/

2. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/210715/dq210715c-eng.htm

3. https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/sidl-rlcfa/

4. https://www.educalcool.qc.ca/en/tools/calcoholator/

5. https://www.educalcool.qc.ca/en/info/driving/drinking-driving-making-the-right-choice/

Ces conseils sont fournis à titre informatif et préventif seulement. Ils sont d’ordre général et n’engagent pas la responsabilité de Desjardins Assurances. La vigilance est de mise et il est recommandé de consulter un expert en la matière pour obtenir des conseils complets et pertinents pour chaque situation.

Desjardins Assurances désigne Certas, compagnie d’assurances auto et habitation, émettrice de produits d’assurance auto et habitation ou Desjardins Sécurité financière, compagnie d’assurance vie, émettrice de produits d’assurance vie et de prestations du vivant.

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