When will they learn? There are many drivers in Canada would never dream of getting behind the wheel of their car or truck while drunk. They know the dangers of mixing alcohol and driving, and most likely they know the consequences too; suspension, fines, possible jail time, and an ignition interlock to prevent their vehicle from starting if they fail a breath test beforehand.
Those same drivers, who are positively angelic on the roads, lose all sense of responsibility when they climb into a different type of vehicle. They’ll chug beers while piloting a motorboat, down a few shots of vodka before hopping on an ATV, or – this latest one in Newfoundland – jump on a snowmobile while impaired.
In this case, the driver was only 15, which is worrying in more ways than one. But even mature drivers can lose their common sense when faced with a motor vehicle whose wheels are tiny or, as in this case, non-existent. Yet a motor vehicle is a motor vehicle, a machine capable of moving faster than people can avoid them and causing injury or death. That means a snowmobile DUI is a distinct possibility. Drunk driving laws are in place to protect the public from harm on or off the road, so make no mistake about it: you can get a DUI on a snowy trail, on the water, on a bicycle path, or even on a sidewalk, if you have the bad judgment to drive a Segway while under the influence.
Is there any leeway on allowable blood alcohol because you’re off the road? The answer is no. Canada’s legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is .08 (.05 is the “warn range” in Ontario). But the most important factor is if you are capable of driving safely, regardless of the actual amount of alcohol. If you are observed driving poorly enough to endanger yourself or others, then you are liable to get a DUI, no matter what your BAC is. Canada’s Criminal code says that you are breaking the law if you’re driving any kind of motor vehicle with your ability impaired or with a BAC of .08.
So on roads, on snow, or water, with four wheels, three, two or none, play it safe. Don’t drive while drinking. No matter what you’re driving, no one has yet found an excuse that will work in court.