Many people do not truly understand the differences between Section 253 (1a), impairment by alcohol or drugs, and Section 253 (1b), exceeding eighty milligrams of alcohol. Basically, impaired driving is where a person’s ability to operate a motorized vehicle is impaired, most often by alcohol, but could also be impaired from drugs, or a mixture of drugs and alcohol.
vImpaired driving is one of those offences where the police have discretion to determine whether they believe a person is impaired. Typically, concerned civilians will notice a motor vehicle being operated in an unusual or unsafe manner and report the driver to the police or the police will observe erratic driving and stop the vehicle. Upon being stopped by the police, the officer will make inquiries in regards to the use of alcohol and/or drugs.
If they suspect the driver is impaired, they will request the driver provide a breath sample if they have an approved screening device with them or, if not, will transport the driver directly to the local police station to collect two samples. Refusing to provide a breath sample is a drinking and driving offence and if the driver refuses the person will be arrested and taken to the local police station.
After providing a breath sample, roadside, if the driver is impaired, they will be arrested and transported to the
local police station, where they are required to provide two additional samples. If both of the additional samples indicates impairment or driving in excess of 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millitres of blood, as based upon the a blood alcohol concentration (BAC), then the driver is formally charged. Keep in mind, if the BAC was over 80 milligrams, you can be charged with both Impaired Driving and Driving Over 80.
In cases where the driver was stopped for a routine traffic check, other Highway Traffic Act violation, or RIDE Program check, and the officer has grounds to suspect the driver has consumed alcohol, the office will request the drive provide a breath sample roadside, into an approved screening device. In these instances, the police normally do not believe the driver is impaired, rather the police have a suspicion the driver has consumed alcohol and is verifying they are not driving in excess of the legal limit.
If the driver fails the breath test with the roadside screening device, which is normally calibrated to fail if the BAC is over 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, then the driver can be arrested and taken to the local police station, where two additional samples are collected. Again, if both additional samples show a concentration of alcohol in excess of 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, the driver’s BAC exceeds legal limits. The driver will be charged with Driving Over 80.