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Youth Impaired Driving

Definition

Impaired driving is driving while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Definition Impacts
Alcohol impaired driving: driving after having consumed any amount of alcohol. Everyone reacts differently to alcohol, so it's hard to say what the exact effects will be. Some people feel happy, some are sad, and some just get really sleepy. Drinking heavily impairs your judgment and your risk of getting into an accident increases dramatically.
Drug impaired driving: driving after consuming drugs – illegal, prescription, or even over-the-counter.
  • Slower reaction times
  • Harder to concentrate
  • Drowsy and/or disoriented feelings
  • Difficulty judging distances and making decisions
  • Harder to stay in your own lane
  • Greater difficulty maintaining a constant speed (Peel Public Health)

Laws

It is illegal to: Possible consequences include:

Drive while under the influence of alcohol and drive under the influence of drugs

  • Fine of $50 to $600 upon conviction
  • Criminal charges
  • License suspension
  • Being sentenced to driver rehab
  • Possible jail time
  • Killing yourself, your passengers and other people

What You Can Do

Sometimes you may be in a situation where you feel stuck and that you have no other option than to drive after having a couple drinks or get in the car with someone who has. But it's still important to remember that you have options and even if you plan on having even one drink, you shouldn't get behind the wheel.

If you think you may be impaired…

Here are some alternate ways to get home if you ever find yourself in one of these situations:

  • Have a designated driver
  • Call a cab
  • Take the bus
  • Call a friend, your parents or a trusted person who is not impaired
  • Stay at a friend's house

If someone offers you a ride home, and they are under the influence (of drugs, alcohol, or are fatigued)…

It's okay to turn down their offer. There are many ways to get out of this kind of situation:

  • Look the person in the eye and confidently say "no, thank you"
  • Suggest splitting a cab
  • Tell them you will find another way home – walking, taking the bus, or a cab, or calling someone else
  • If you don't know the person that well, try and talk to their friends. See if they will be able to persuade that person to not drive (Alcohol Problems and Solutions)
  • Try hiding their keys. Take them from the person when they are preoccupied, and chances are they will just believe that they lost them somewhere (Alcohol Problems and Solutions)
  • If the party is at a house and all else fails, ask the owner of the house if you can stay there that night

If you spot an impaired driver?

Contact the police and give them the following information:

  • The location and direction of travel of the suspected impaired driver
  • The license plate number, car make, model and colour of vehicle
  • A description of the driver and your present location

To host a safe event?

If you are of age, there are ways to host an event that involves alcohol in a safe way. Here are some do's and don'ts on what to do to ensure that your event will be safe for everyone:

  • Do not provide or make alcohol the main focus of the event
  • Refrain from drinking or drink moderately
  • Be attentive to your guests' behaviour and appearance (do not provide alcohol to a guest who is or may be intoxicated)
  • Do not combine alcohol with other activities such as swimming
  • Do make food and non-alcoholic beverages available
  • Do arrange for alternate means of transportation
  • Do stop serving alcohol hours before the end of the event

To deal with peer pressure?

Sometimes we can be pressured into doing something we don't want to do for fear of being rejected from the group, or even of being considered "different." But not conforming to peer pressure can be a good thing, especially when it comes to impaired and distracted driving. Remember that you can have an effect on your peers as well. If you have a strong stance on impaired driving, others may follow in your footsteps. For example, if you refuse to get into a vehicle with someone who is impaired, others will be less likely to do the same. Most youth will feel pressured to drink or do drugs at some point in their lives, and may feel that they are still okay to drive. It is important for you to know your limits (and also remember that your blood alcohol content has to be 0 if you're under 21), understand what you are comfortable doing and not doing, and to be able to communicate this to others. Here are some ways you can say "no" to doing things that could impair your driving:

  • I don't want to end up like (insert celebrity's name here, e.g. Lindsay Lohan)
  • I think I'll pass – it's not really my kinda thing
  • No, I'm good. But thanks anyway!
  • I can't, it would make my asthma/bronchitis/cold even worse (National Anti-Drug Strategy).

If they keep trying to push you, you could simply ask them to respect you by not making you do something you're not comfortable with. Even just saying you'll meet up with them later could work. But always remember that you're not alone, and you don't have to change yourself to fit in. A good friend will still be your friend no matter what you choose to do and they will respect your opinion, so don't be afraid to stand up for your beliefs.

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