Impaired driving in Nunavut, Canada, can result in significant legal and personal consequences. Police can immediately suspend your license for 24 hours if caught driving under the influence. Impaired drivers are typically charged under the Criminal Code with penalties, including life in prison for impaired driving causing death. Cannabis and illegal drugs can impair your driving ability, and zero-tolerance policies exist for drivers under 22. Immediate license suspensions and impounding of vehicles can occur if caught with a blood alcohol concentration above .05. A first offence for driving with a blood alcohol concentration over .08 can result in a minimum one-year license suspension and a $1,000 fine. Repeat offenders can face jail time and longer license suspensions. The Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program can be installed on your ignition, preventing your vehicle from operating if alcohol is detected.
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Impaired Driving in Nunavut
*Generally, the Criminal Code is the basis for impaired driving charges, but there may be supplementary sanctions under provincial law.
Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada, according to the Department of Justice. There were more than 69,000 impaired driving incidents reported by the police across the country in 2017, including almost 3,500 drug-impaired driving incidents. If you are caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol police have the authority to immediately suspend your licence for 24 hours. If you are caught with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08, you can be charged under Canada’s Criminal Code and face fines and jail terms.
Charged Under the Traffic Safety Act or Criminal Code
Like each territory and province in Canada, Nunavut is responsible for governing its roads and highways. The Traffic Safety Act (TSA) lays out the rights and responsibilities of drivers in the territory and includes laws to deal with impaired driving. It should be noted that impaired drivers are typically charged under the Criminal Code, with penalties that can include life in prison for impaired driving causing death. There can also be supplementary charges under the TSA.
Impaired Driving is Not Limited to Alcohol
If you drive with a BAC equal to or over 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, or .08, you can be charged under the Criminal Code. However, police warn that alcohol is not the only substance that can affect your ability to drive.
Cannabis and illegal drugs can impair your ability to drive. The same is true for over-the-counter drugs and prescription medicine, especially when combined with alcohol. Cannabis is now legal in Canada however, driving under the influence of the drug is not. It is an offence to have between two and five nanograms of THC – the primary psychoactive component of cannabis – per ml of blood when operating a vehicle. Operating any conveyance, such as a car or off-road vehicle with a reading of five ng or more of THC per ml of blood is an even more serious offence. The combined prohibited levels of alcohol and cannabis is 50 mg or more of alcohol per 100 ml of blood and 2.5 ng or more of THC per ml of blood.
If convicted of operating an off-road vehicle, snowmobile or boat when impaired by alcohol or drugs you will face the same consequences as those operating an automobile while impaired.
Nunavut has a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol for drivers under the age of 22.
Mandatory Alcohol Screening
Following legislation introduced by the federal government in 2018, police now have the right to demand a breath test from you at a roadside stop even without reasonable suspicion that you have consumed alcohol. Prior to mandatory alcohol screening (MAS), police were only permitted to demand a breath test at a roadside stop if there was proof you had been drinking, such as detecting the smell of alcohol.
You cannot escape punishment by refusing to provide a breath sample nor do you have the right to consult with a lawyer before providing one. It is important to remember that under the Criminal Code, you face the same penalties for failing or refusing to comply with a demand of a peace officer as you would for a conviction for impaired driving.
Suspensions are Immediate
It is illegal for anyone in Nunavut to operate a vehicle with a BAC above .05. If you are caught, you face an immediate 24-hour roadside licence suspension and your vehicle will be impounded. You will be responsible for paying the towing and impound fees.
Consequences of a Criminal Conviction
If you are caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration over .08, you will be charged under the Criminal Code. A conviction for a first offence means your licence will be suspended for a minimum of one year and you will be fined a minimum of $1,000.
Under the TSA, repeat offenders face a minimum jail term of 30 days for a second offence and a 24-month driving prohibition. If you are convicted a third time, you can be jailed for a minimum of 120 days and your driver’s licence will be suspended for 36 months.
If you have been involved in an accident and charged with impaired driving causing bodily harm, you could be imprisoned for up to 10 years. You can be sent to prison for life If you are found guilty of impaired driving causing death.
Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program
Ignition interlock programs are used across the country following a conviction for impaired driving. An interlock can be installed on your ignition preventing your vehicle from operating if alcohol is detected. The device requires the driver to provide breath samples at random times while their vehicle is running. If a sample is not provided or the driver’s blood alcohol content exceeds the allowed limit, the device will log the event, give a warning and trigger an alarm that will sound until the ignition is turned off. Those eligible for the program are responsible for the cost of installing and using the interlock.