Québec lowers tolerance for DUIs

Dec 10, 2019

As of November 25, getting caught drunk driving twice over a span of 10 years in Québec means being required to blow into an ignition breathalyzer to start your car, for life. The new regulation was implemented into the province’s Highway Safety Code during its restructuring in 2018.  

“When you compare it to other provinces, nobody else has done anything like this, It would be the toughest interlock legislation, not only in Canada but globally.”

Andrew Murie, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada, to CBC News.

According to Mario Vaillancourt, spokesperson for Québec’s automobile insurance board (SAAQ), prior to the implementation of the new law ignition breathalyzer devices could be installed for life upon a second drinking and driving offence which included the presence of aggravating factors such as refusal to cooperate with police or the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) being significantly higher than the legal limit.

The offenders’ licences will be marked to alert any intercepting police officer to inspect the driver’s ignition for an interlock device, which prevents the car from starting when the driver’s estimated BAC is above the legal limit (0.08g in Québec).

“Although road safety is improving in Québec, accidents caused by drinking and driving are still causing too many deaths each year. With this measure coming into effect on Nov. 25, we are sending a clear message to motorists and repeat offenders: driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs is unacceptable.”

Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel, to CTV News

A motorist with a restricted licence due to drunk driving offenses cannot use a vehicle without an ignition breathalyzer. In addition, being caught driving without the interlock device results in a three-month licence suspension and fine of $1,500, as well as the vehicle being potentially impounded for 30 days.

Moreover, the license restrictions that come with a second conviction include an immediate seizure of the vehicle and impoundment for 90 days, in addition to imprisonment and a license suspension for a minimum of two years.

“Although road safety is improving in Québec, accidents caused by drinking and driving are still causing too many deaths each year,” said Bonnardel.

Data from the Québec Ministry of Transport demonstrates that from 2013 to 2017, alcohol-related crashes resulted in around 100 deaths per year, in addition to 220 serious injuries and 1,800 minor injuries due to drunk driving accidents.