Impaired Driving vs. Over 80: What Is the Difference?
  • 01August 2022
  • Impaired Driving vs. Over 80: What Is the Difference?

Everyone knows they shouldn’t drink and drive, and that it’s instead best to arrange for another means of transportation. Indeed, under the Canadian Criminal Code, Section 253 , it’s a crime to operate a motor vehicle when the driver’s ability is impaired due to drug use or alcohol consumption.

The two main charges in this regard are impaired driving and over 80. While related, they are distinct under the Criminal Code.

So, what are the differences between an impaired driving charge in Mississauga and over 80? And how are these charges proven?

Keep reading this post prepared by our leading DUI lawyers in Mississauga to answer these questions.

What Are the Differences Between Driving Over 80 and Impaired Driving?

It’s not uncommon to confuse impaired driving and over 80 charges, since they are often laid together. However, they have different meanings, as detailed here by DUI lawyers in Mississauga.

1. What Is Impaired Driving?

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When you are arrested for operating a car, truck, motorboat, off-road vehicle or snowmobile while impaired, you typically face an impaired driving offence. However, this offence does not only involve alcohol. An individual can be charged with impaired driving when their driving ability has been impaired by drugs, too. This has become especially prominent since marijuana was legalized in Canada.

In terms of impaired driving, authorities aren’t worried about your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as much as the effect of alcohol and other intoxicants on the driver. For instance, an individual may be too impaired to drive safely even with a legal amount of alcohol in their blood.

If a police officer has stopped you while driving, they have the right to question you. Furthermore, they may ask you to submit to a field sobriety test. This allows them to determine your level of intoxication. For instance, they may test your balance and speech along with any other sign that indicates your ability to drive is impaired.

2. What Is Over 80?

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It’s a criminal offence in Canada to operate a motor vehicle when the driver has a BAC of more than 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. To establish an equal to or over 80 charge, the Crown needs to prove that the driver’s BAC exceeded this limit. However, there is no need for them to prove impairment. The BAC can be determined either with a blood or breath sample. However, numerous factors may affect the BAC, such as:

  • How much alcohol the individual consumed
  • Their weight
  • Their gender
  • How much time has passed since their last drink
  • Their ability to absorb and eliminate alcohol

In many instances where a driver is arrested or charged with “Over 80”, they don’t know they have consumed more than the legally-allowed limit. Many drivers will state that they didn’t feel drunk, which is why they drove. However, it is not necessary for the driver to feel drunk to be considered driving under the influence and receive an impaired driving charge.

3. What Is the Penalty for an Impaired Driving or Over 80 Charge?

According to the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario , the severity of your penalty depends on your BAC at the time of your arrest and how many times you may have been charged for impaired driving and/or over 80 in the past. The penalties are the same whether you are charged for over 80 and impaired driving separately or together.

For a first offence:

  • You must enrol in a mandatory alcohol education and treatment program.
  • Drivers need to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle for at least one year.
  • Drivers must pay a $1,000 fine. This does not include towing charges and other applicable fines.
  • Your driver’s license is suspended for a year.

For a second offence:

  • Drivers have to attend a mandatory alcohol treatment and education program.
  • Your car is equipped with an ignition interlocking device for a minimum of three years.
  • There is a minimum 30-day jail sentence.
  • Your driver’s license is suspended for three years.
  • A judge will decide your fine.

For a third and subsequent offence:

  • The driver needs to attend mandatory alcohol treatment and education programs.
  • Your car will be permanently equipped with an ignition interlocking device.
  • A judge will set your fine.
  • You face a minimum 120-day jail sentence.
  • Your driver’s license is suspended permanently.

4. Why You Should Seek Professional Representation

An experienced DUI lawyer in Mississauga can help individuals dealing with even the most complicated impaired driving or over 80 charges. They can help build a strong case and will fight to ensure the best possible outcome. Whether you’re dealing with an over 80 or impaired driving charge in Mississauga, they will work diligently to make sure you avoid having a criminal record or pay hefty fines. They will also try to prevent your license from being suspended.

DUI lawyers in Mississauga know the intricacies of Canadian law and the best ways to navigate them. They also know how to negotiate with the Crown. This can go a long way towards minimizing the impact of the offence. Also, dealing with the criminal justice system, including the police, can be complicated, making it necessary to hire a skilled legal team. They are your best bet for having your charges dismissed or reduced.

Being charged with impaired driving or over 80 is serious, and its effects will stick with you for a long time. If you or someone you know has been charged with either or both offences, it’s imperative that you fight back. Hiring a skilled DUI lawyer in Mississauga is the first step in ensuring that your life is not derailed by the charge. It is also the best way to reduce or eliminate your impaired driving and/or over 80 charges.

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