Can I drive after drinking or taking drugs?

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or impaired driving, is illegal in Ontario. You could hurt yourself or others and face legal penalties.

What are the consequences of impaired driving?

Every year, impaired driving kills over a thousand people in Canada. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has information about the human costs of impaired driving.

Impaired driving is a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada. The consequences of driving under the influence could include:

  • losing your licence
  • having your vehicle taken away from you
  • paying a fine
  • being required to participate in education or treatment programs
  • having to install a machine that tests your Blood Alcohol Concentration (ignition interlock device) in your vehicle
  • going to jail

You could also face consequences if you refuse to take a sobriety test.

You can find a full outline of the penalties on the Ministry of Transportation website

What should I do if I see someone who is driving while they are impaired?

If you think that another driver might be impaired, call 9-1-1 or the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).

How can I prevent impaired driving?

If you think you might be drinking or doing drugs, plan ahead for a safe ride home. This can include getting a ride from a family member or friend who hasn’t been drinking (a designated driver), taking a taxi or taking public transit.

If you are taking medications, it is also a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about their effects on driving. You should not drive after taking certain medications. Being tired, sick or stressed can also affect your ability to drive safely. 

Drinking and Driving Laws

Drinking and driving laws are based on your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). This is the amount of alcohol in your blood. BACs are based on many factors including your gender, weight, how fast you drink and how much you have eaten. The best way to have a safe BAC is not to drink at all.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Limits

For most drivers, driving with a BAC over 0.08 (80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood) is a criminal offence. You can also be penalized for having a BAC in the “warn range” of between 0.05 and 0.08.

Some drivers, such as those under 21 years old or people without a lot of driving experience must have a zero BAC.

You can find full details about BAC restrictions and penalties on the Ministry of Transportation website.

For More Information

  • Impaired Driving (Ontario) – Information about impaired driving laws and the penalties you could face. From the Ministry of Transportation.
  • Impaired Driving (RCMP) – Educational campaigns and information on impaired driving. From the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
  • Arrive Alive - An organization that aims to eliminate impaired driving in Ontario. They have an app that helps users plan a safe trip home.
  • MADD - Mothers Against Drunk Driving - A national organization that raises public awareness of impaired driving issues.
Last updated: October 4, 2016 4005023