Stricter drinking and driving laws come into effect December 18

Dec 17 2018, 5:13 pm

With holiday party season in full swing, those who get behind the wheel after a few cocktails may want to think again, as much tougher drinking and driving laws are about to kick in this week.

As of Tuesday, December 18, stricter drunk driving laws will come into effect and now law enforcement will be able to demand a breathalyzer test from drivers they lawfully stop, even without reasonable suspicion that they have consumed alcohol.

Up until now, extreme drunk drivers faced the same penalties as those who only slightly blew over. But now, according to Sergeant Brett Moore, a Mandatory Alcohol Screening (MAS) will be done after the person is stopped lawfully by a police officer and refusal to submit a breath sample could lead to a criminal offence and a mandatory minimum $2,000 fine.

“Research suggests that up to 50% of drivers with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit are not detected at roadside checkpoints,” said Moore. “Mandatory alcohol screening will assist in deterring individuals impaired by alcohol from driving as well as better detect those who do.”

The new changes also focus on drug-impaired driving, giving police the authority to demand either a Standardized Field Sobriety Test or the use of oral fluid drug screeners.

If the presence of a drug is detected, young, novice and commercial drivers can be immediately suspended from driving. These drivers also have zero tolerance for alcohol.

Under Bill-C46, the mandatory fines for first offenders with high blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) without causing bodily harm or death will also increase to:

  • A first offender with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 80 to 119 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood is subject to the current mandatory fine of $1,000
  • The mandatory minimum fine for a first offender with a BAC of 120 to 159 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood is raised to $1,500
  • The mandatory minimum fine for a first offender with a BAC of 160 mg or over of alcohol per 100 ml of blood or more is raised to $2,000
  • A first offender who refuses to comply with a lawful demand is subject to a $2,000 minimum fine
  • Second offence is mandatory minimum 30 days imprisonment
  • Third offence is mandatory minimum 120 days imprisonment

The news comes after Montreal’s SPVM (Service de police de la Ville de Montréal) announced that all police services in the province will also intensify their road surveillance and interventions during the holidays.

Montreal police


“In December, the opportunities to celebrate and party multiply,” reads the SPVM website, “we want everyone to take full advantage of these festivities, knowing that getting behind the wheel while impaired is a criminal act.”

According to the SPVM, impaired driving from alcohol or drugs remains one of the leading causes of fatal collisions in Quebec. Every year in the province, alcohol-related crashes cause an average of 110 deaths and 2,060 injuries.

See also