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Driving While Impaired

British Columbia has very strict laws about drinking and driving. Alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine and liquor, can make you an impaired driver.

If you cause an accident while drinking and driving you may have to pay a fine or go to jail. You may have to pay the costs of the accident yourself, as ICBC may not pay the costs if you cause an accident after you have been drinking. Your insurance may also cost more.

If you are caught drinking and driving

The police can stop you to check if you have been drinking alcohol. Police can ask you to provide a breath sample into a roadside screening device. The device measures how much alcohol you have in your blood.

If you are caught driving with a blood-alcohol content over 0.05:

  • You will lose your driver’s licence immediately and prohibit you from driving for up to 30 days.
  • You will pay a fine.
  • Your vehicle may be impounded for up to 30 days. You will need to pay all the towing and storage fees.
  • You will have to pay to get your licence back.
  • You may be required to complete the Responsible Driver Program or the Ignition Interlock Program. 

In addition to these penalties, you can be charged with a crime and have to go to court if you are caught driving with a blood-alcohol content over 0.08, or you refuse to provide a breath sample.

If you are found guilty in court, you can be prohibited from driving for at least a year, pay a fine, pay more for car insurance, and possible jail time.

Also if you are a Novice driver in the Graduated Licensing Program and are caught with any level of blood alcohol below 0.05, you might face a 24 hour driving prohibition.

If you are caught using drugs and driving

When you are driving, police can stop you and check to see if you have been taking drugs. They can order you to give them samples of blood, oral fluid or urine.

The penalties are like those for drinking and driving. They include fines and penalty points on your driving record. You can also be charged with a crime and have to go to court.

To learn more see Driving while Affected by Drugs or Alcohol.

Last reviewed date: 2021/ Apr