What Are the Possible Penalties For Impaired Driving?

An Impaired Driving Charge, More Accurately an Impaired Operation Charge, Is a Serious Criminal Concern With Potential Penalty of Life Imprisonment.

Understanding Impaired Operation of a ConveyancePer Section 320.14 of the Criminal Code

Impaired Driving Defence Services In [Legal Firm The charge that is commonly known and referred to as driving under the influence ("DUI") or driving while impaired ("DWI") is actually a misnomer.  Technically, in law, the charge is impaired operation of a conveyance ("impaired driving") which may involve a motor vehicle, a watercraft of many types, an aircraft, or railway equipment.  Additionally, the charge has three variations depending on whether the conduct caused danger, caused injury, or caused death.

The Law

In 2018, the Criminal Code of Canada, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 received numerous amendments.  Among the changes, the charge formerly known as impaired driving, previously found at section 249 of the Criminal Code was repealed and amended to the new charge known as dangerous operation of a conveyance along with new version of the applicable wording.  The new charge is found at section 320.14 of the Criminal Code and the wording specifically states:


Impaired operation

320.14 (1) Everyone commits an offence who

(a) operates a conveyance while the person’s ability to operate it is impaired to any degree by alcohol or a drug or by a combination of alcohol and a drug;

(b) subject to subsection (5), has, within two hours after ceasing to operate a conveyance, a blood alcohol concentration that is equal to or exceeds 80 mg of alcohol in 100 mL of blood;

(c) subject to subsection (6), has, within two hours after ceasing to operate a conveyance, a blood drug concentration that is equal to or exceeds the blood drug concentration for the drug that is prescribed by regulation; or

(d) subject to subsection (7), has, within two hours after ceasing to operate a conveyance, a blood alcohol concentration and a blood drug concentration that is equal to or exceeds the blood alcohol concentration and the blood drug concentration for the drug that are prescribed by regulation for instances where alcohol and that drug are combined.

Operation causing bodily harm

(2) Everyone commits an offence who commits an offence under subsection (1) and who, while operating the conveyance, causes bodily harm to another person.

Operation causing death

(3) Everyone commits an offence who commits an offence under subsection (1) and who, while operating the conveyance, causes the death of another person.

As indicated, section 320.14(1) addresses impaired operation posing a danger to the public while section 320.14(2) addresses impaired operation causing bodily harm or injury and section 320.14(3) addresses impaired operation causing death.  With each increasing level of seriousness, and every level is indeed serious, the degree of potential penalties and punishments increases.

Possible Penalties

As shown, the potential penalties following a conviction for an impaired operation offence depends upon the specific section charged and circumstances involved.  Upon an impaired operation causing risk of danger conviction, the potential penalties are prescribed by section 320.19(1).  Upon an impaired operation causing injury conviction, the potential penalties are prescribed by section 320.20.  Upon an impaired operation causing death conviction, the potential penalties are prescribed by section 320.21.  Specifically, the respective penalty sections state:


Punishment

320.19(1) Every person who commits an offence under subsection 320.14(1) or 320.15(1) is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years and to a minimum punishment of,

(i) for a first offence, a fine of $1,000,

(ii) for a second offence, imprisonment for a term of 30 days, and

(iii) for each subsequent offence, imprisonment for a term of 120 days; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine of not more than $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years less a day, or to both, and to a minimum punishment of,

(i) for a first offence, a fine of $1,000,

(ii) for a second offence, imprisonment for a term of 30 days, and

(iii) for each subsequent offence, imprisonment for a term of 120 days.

Punishment in case of bodily harm

320.2 Every person who commits an offence under subsection 320.13(2), 320.14(2), 320.15(2) or 320.16(2) is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 14 years and to a minimum punishment of,

(i) for a first offence, a fine of $1,000,

(ii) for a second offence, imprisonment for a term of 30 days, and

(iii) for each subsequent offence, imprisonment for a term of 120 days; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine of not more than $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years less a day, or to both, and to the minimum punishments set out in subparagraphs (a)(i) to (iii).

Punishment in case of death

320.21 Everyone who commits an offence under subsection 320.13(3), 320.14(3), 320.15(3) or 320.16(3) is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life and to a minimum punishment of,

(a) for a first offence, a fine of $1,000;

(b) for a second offence, imprisonment for a term of 30 days; and

(c) for each subsequent offence, imprisonment for a term of 120 days.

Summary Comment

The charge of impaired driving, which is formerly known in law as impaired operation of a conveyance, involves a range of charges of increasing severity with each carrying a range of increasing severity for the potential penalties, all of which are significantly serious.  Regardless of which impaired driving charge an accused person is facing, the hiring competent legal representative is strongly urged.

Learn About - Definition of Conveyance Learn About - Definition of Operation
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