When you’re stopped for suspected impaired driving and you’re asked to provide a breathalyzer sample, you’re probably more worried about what your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) will be if you’ve been drinking than what type of impaired driving charge you could receive if you’re arrested.
Not all impaired driving charges are the same under the Canadian Criminal Code. When you’re arrested and found to be drunk behind the wheel, you can either be charged with impaired driving or Over 80. Although you might have heard they are the same charge, they’re both unique.
When you’re stopped for suspected drunk driving, you might be charged with both impaired driving and Over 80, but you can’t be convicted of both at the same time. An impaired driving charge is based on how alcohol has affected your ability to drive. You might be charged with impaired driving if the arresting officer sees you as suffering from a physical reaction to alcohol including stumbling, slurred speech, and difficulty standing.
An Over 80 charge is based on the measurement of your BAC. If you’re submitted to a breathalyzer and you blow over the legal limit, you can be charged with Over 80 even if the alcohol in your system hasn’t had much of an effect on you. Police use this charge for people who are over the legal limit for driving but they still appear sober.
Here are a few Over 80 myths you may have heard of:
You can keep your driver’s license for work if you’re charged with Over 80
Whether you receive an impaired driving or Over 80 charge, you’re bound by the Criminal Code of Canada and your province’s impaired driving laws. If that includes a driver’s license suspension, you’ll lose your license for any type of driving.
You can’t be charged with Over 80 if you pass field sobriety tests
When you’re arrested you might feel stone cold sober and easily pass all field sobriety tests, but you blow into a breathalyzer and you’re over the legal limit. No matter how sober you appear in your field sobriety tests, you’ll receive an Over 80 or impaired driving charge if you fail the breathalyzer.
An Over 80 charge is a serious matter in Canada. Just like impaired driving charges, you’ll be subject to stiff fines, penalties, and an ignition interlock if you’re in a province that requires them. The safest option for you and everyone on the roads today is to avoid driving after drinking, period.