FAQ

How drugs and alcohol affect your driving?


Illegal drugs, cannabis, over-the-counter and prescription medications can all affect your judgment, reaction time, coordination and motor skills. Even a small amount of drugs, no matter how they are taken, can impair your ability to drive, and when you drive high, your risk of crashing more than doubles.

Alcohol — even one drink — can reduce your ability to react to things that happen suddenly. The effects of alcohol also include blurred or double vision, impaired attention and slowed reflexes. Alcohol-impaired driving is one of the leading causes of death on Ontario’s roads.

What counts as impaired driving?


Impaired driving means operating a vehicle (including cars, trucks, boats, snowmobiles and off-road vehicles) while your ability to do so has been compromised to any degree by consuming alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two.

Fully Licensed Drivers

Throughout Canada, the maximum legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for fully licensed drivers is 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, or 0.08. Driving with BAC over 0.08 is a criminal offence and the penalties are severe.

In Ontario, you will also face serious consequences if your BAC is between 0.05 and 0.08. This is commonly referred to as the “warn range.”

If police determine that you are driving while impaired by any drug, including illegal drugs, cannabis, prescription and over-the-counter medications, you will face severe consequences and criminal charges.

Is there zero tolerance for young, novice and commercial drivers?


Young and Novice Drivers

Drivers age 21 or under and novice drivers of any age (with G1, G2, M1, or M2 licenses) must not have any presence of alcohol in their blood when behind the wheel. This is commonly referred to as the “zero BAC” or “zero tolerance” rule.

Starting July 1, 2018, young and novice drivers will also be prohibited from having any presence of cannabis in their system as well as other drugs that can be detected by an oral fluid screening device. That means that Ontario will have a zero tolerance approach to both alcohol and drugs for all young and novice drivers.

If police determine that you have the presence of cannabis or alcohol in your system and/or that you are impaired by any substance including illegal drugs, prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications, you will face severe consequences and potential criminal charges.

Commercial Drivers

Starting July 1, 2018 drivers of vehicles requiring an A-F class licence, vehicles requiring a Commercial Vehicle Operator's Registration (CVOR) and road building machines will be prohibited from having any presence of alcohol in their blood when behind the wheel of these types of vehicles. These drivers will also be prohibited from having any presence of cannabis in their system as well as other drugs that can be detected by an oral fluid screening device.

If police determine that you have the presence of cannabis or alcohol in your system and/or that you are impaired by any substance including illegal drugs, prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications, you will face severe consequences and potential criminal charges.

What are the penalties for distracted driving?


The easiest way to avoid penalties for distracted driving is to not use a hand-held device when you’re behind the wheel.

It’s against the law to use hand-held communication (e.g. your phone) and electronic entertainment devices (e.g. DVD player, e-reader) while driving.

In fact, simply holding a phone or other device while driving is against the law.

You can use:

  • a hands-free device (e.g. Bluetooth) but only to turn it on and off
  • a mounted device (e.g. phone, GPS) as long as it is secure – not moving around while driving

If convicted, the penalty you face depends on the kind of licence you hold and how long you’ve been driving.

Drivers with A to G licences

If you have an A, B, C, D, E, F and/or G licence, you’ll face bigger penalties when convicted of distracted driving:

  • a fine of $490, if settled out of court (includes a victim surcharge and the court fee)
  • a fine of up to $1,000 if a summons is received or if you fight the ticket in court and lose
  • three demerit points

Novice drivers

If you hold a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence, and are convicted of distracted driving, you’ll face the same fines as drivers with A to G licences. But you won’t receive any demerit points.

Instead of demerit points you’ll face:

  • a 30-day licence suspension for a first conviction
  • a 90-day licence suspension for a second conviction
  • cancellation of your licence and removal from the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) for a third conviction
    • to get your licence back you’d have to redo the GLS program
Resources: