Over the past 10 years, drinking and driving laws have become more strictly enforced and have included tougher sanctions for those convicted of impaired driving.
These can be associated to the fact that impaired driving cases are the most common offence completed in adult criminal courts. Additionally, while the rest of Canada has experienced a decrease in crime rates, impaired driving has increased.
For example, in 2011, there were 3,000 more impaired driving incidents reported to police than the year before.
In 2012, over 80,000 Canadians were convicted of impaired driving.
In turn, legislative bodies have struck down hard on impaired drivers, with an increase in road side programs used to catch impaired drivers, and longer sentences and increased fines for those convicted of impaired driving.
Recently, the federal legal blood alcohol level has also been changed. Although individuals with a blood alcohol level over 0.08 will still be charged with a criminal offense, now those whose blood alcohol level is between 0.05 and 0.08 will still have legal sanctions imposed on them, including a temporary suspended license and fines.
Those convicted of impaired driving, where the blood alcohol level is over 0.08, can incur temporary or lifetime license suspensions, fines, and even prison sentences with a maximum of life in prison.
Additionally, impaired driving charges are a criminal code offence, which means that unlike many driving infractions, these charges will appear on a criminal record. In turn, an impaired driving conviction can negatively impact ones future employment, schooling, housing, volunteering opportunities and even travel abilities. Further, those with a life sentence, from impaired or dangerous driving causing death, will never have the ability to have their record suspended, even upon release from prison.
It is important to note that there are many ways to avoid impaired driving, it is as easy as calling a cab, uber, or a friend, staying the night, or having a designated driver.