Is Two Beer Too Many?

July 16, 2013

Do you feel comfortable driving your vehicle after having only one or two beers? If so, then answer this question: What blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is required for the police to impound your vehicle and charge you with impaired driving?

a. 0.05
b. 0.08
c. Over 0.08

The answer is all of the above. Contrary to popular belief, you may be charged with impaired driving even when you have a BAC of less than 80 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood, more commonly known as 0.08. You can be charged for impaired driving under the Criminal Code or issued an immediate roadside prohibition (IRP) under the Motor Vehicle Act. Chances are that if you are pulled over today with a BAC above 0.05 you will be issued an IRP. While IRPs do not result in a criminal record the consequences can be just as costly and long term. For this reason you should know your rights, obligations and options.

What is an immediate roadside prohibition?

The police may issue an IRP when you are in control of a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.05 and above. Your BAC is determined by testing a breath sample using an approved screening device (ASD). After providing a breath sample the ASD will indicate if your BAC tests above 0.05 and, in those cases, you may be issued a driving prohibition between 3 and 90 days. In addition to the driving prohibition your vehicle may be impounded and you may be required to pay thousands of dollars in fines and fees and attend at your expense, remedial programs such as having an Interlock Ignition Device installed in your vehicle for one year.

Can an IRP be appealed or reviewed?

You can request a review of an IRP however there is a strict seven day time limit to file for review. If you do not file for an appeal you are deemed to have accepted the IRP. There are twelve grounds for a review and the facts of your case may provide you with an opportunity to re-examine your IRP and have the consequences of the IRP revoked or varied. For example, the police officer must advise you of your right to a second test and the second test must be performed on a different ASD. A lawyer at MJB can’t tell you how many beers is too many for you personally, but we can review the report issued by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles to give you an idea of whether or not you have a reasonable chance of success on a review.

Reviews are conducted by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, and not in front of a judge as is the case with criminal impaired driving charges. Decisions by the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles are final, but may be subject to a review by the Supreme Court, called judicial review. Reviews and judicial reviews may be written or oral and you have the right to have a lawyer assist you, as is the case for any other charge under Canadian law.

If I want to review my IRP what steps should I take?

If you are considering requesting a review it is important to act quickly because of the seven day limitation period. Don’t wait to call a lawyer until day six! If you are past the seven day limitation period you will not be able to request a review.

Timely action and knowledge are your best defence and a legal professional may be the first step to understanding your rights and preserving the future for you and your family. An IRP can dramatically impact your life, but the good news is if you take steps to inform yourself you can avoid further disruption and consequences. If you have any questions regarding an IRP, or any other legal issue, please contact MJB Lawyers for more information.

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