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How to Navigate the Criminal Code in Relation to Driving Charges in Quebec
June 20, 2023

The province of Quebec takes driving charges seriously, and this commitment to safety is reflected in the province's Highway Safety Code and the Criminal Code. To help you better understand the laws and potential consequences, we'll delve into the key points in this post.

Impaired Driving: Beyond Alcohol

Impaired driving is a significant offence in Quebec and includes more than just alcohol. It can also involve the influence of drugs, over-the-counter medicine, prescription medicine, and cannabis. If found guilty, an individual may face severe consequences, including jail time and license suspension. 

For instance, the legal limit for THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) while driving is 2-5 nanograms per ml of blood. Additionally, the legal limit for alcohol is 50mg or more per 100 ml of blood. Police can charge you with impaired driving if your ability to operate a vehicle is affected by any of these substances, even if your blood alcohol concentration is below 0.08.

The Power of the Police

It's important to note that since 2018, police in Quebec have the right to demand a breath sample from any driver without reasonable suspicion of alcohol consumption. This change was introduced to better detect alcohol-impaired drivers, as previous measures allowed up to 50% of drivers with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit to go undetected at roadside check stops.

Penalties and Consequences

If you're caught driving impaired, your license will immediately be suspended for either 24 hours or 90 days, depending on the circumstances, and your vehicle will be impounded at your expense for 30 days. A court conviction will result in a minimum license suspension of one year, and a minimum fine of $1,000. Additionally, an alcohol ignition interlock device may be installed in your vehicle at your cost, which prevents your vehicle from starting if it detects alcohol in your system. The duration of this device will be determined by the court.

Refusing to provide a breath sample is also a serious offence. In Quebec, such refusal will result in an immediate license suspension for 90 days, immediate seizure and impoundment of your vehicle for 30 days (or 90 days for a repeat offence), and possible installation of an alcohol ignition interlock device. Upon conviction, your driver's license will be revoked and conditions will be imposed for you to obtain a new license.

Repeat Offenders

Quebec takes a hard stance against repeat offenders. If you are found guilty of impaired driving a second time within 10 years, you will face a minimum 30-day jail sentence and a license suspension of up to five years. You will also be required to pass a breathalyzer test each time you drive, with your vehicle equipped with an alcohol interlock device, which could remain on the vehicle for life.

Understanding and navigating criminal charges in relation to driving charges in Quebec, Ontario or New York State can be complex. If you find yourself facing such charges, it's important to seek legal advice. At Ticket911, we have a team of experienced lawyers who can guide you through this process and provide the representation you need in any of those jurisdictions. Don't hesitate to contact us for assistance.

Remember, the best way to avoid these charges and their severe consequences is to always drive responsibly. Don't drink and drive, and ensure you're not under the influence of any drugs or medications that may impair your ability to operate a vehicle.