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Youth impaired driving

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Alcohol impaired driving is driving while impaired by alcohol. Everyone reacts differently to alcohol. Some people feel happy, some are sad, and some just get really sleepy. Alcohol reduces your ability to drive safely. Drinking can compromise your judgment and increase your risk of getting into a collision.

Drug impaired driving is driving while impaired by drugs. This includes legal, illegal, prescription, or even over-the-counter drugs. Different drugs have different effects on your brain and body. For example, some may slow your reaction time while others may increase risk-taking behaviour or impair your coordination.

Even small amounts can reduce your ability to drive safely and increase your chances of being involved in a crash. Learn more about the effects of drug-impaired driving.

Laws and consequences

In Canada, it is illegal to drive while impaired, to any extent, by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. This applies to any type of motor vehicle.

Impaired driving can lead to severe consequences, including:

  • fines
  • criminal charges
  • licence suspension
  • being sentenced to driver rehab
  • jail time
  • injuring or killing yourself, your passengers and other people

For complete information on Canada's impaired driving laws, visit the Department of Justice website.

In addition to criminal penalties imposed by the Criminal Code of Canada, many provinces and territories impose administrative sanctions for impaired driving. Check your provincial or territorial laws for information on the consequences of impaired driving where you live.

Learn more about impaired driving investigations.

What you can do

There are always alternatives to driving after consuming drugs or alcohol, or getting in the car with a driver who has. If you plan on drinking or consuming drugs, don't plan on getting behind the wheel.

Help reduce the risks of impaired driving. Use the following tips and share them with the people in your life young and old!

Get home safely

  • Have a designated driver or call a friend, a family member or someone else you can trust
  • Call a cab or ride-sharing service
  • Take public transportation (i.e. a bus)
  • Stay the night if possible and if it's safe to do so

Don't get in the car with a driver who is impaired

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 or ride-sharing service
  • 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 talking to their friends. See if they can persuade that person not to drive.
  • 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
  • Call for help. If you cannot get out of the situation on your own, getting a friend, family member or even the police involved may help. Someone getting in trouble is better than someone crashing and injuring, or killing, themselves or someone else!

If you spot an impaired driver

Contact the police and give them as much information as possible, including:

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

To host a safe event

There are ways to host an event that involves alcohol or legal drugs in a safe way. Consider the following:

  • Don't provide or make alcohol the main focus of the event
  • Make food and non-alcoholic beverages available
  • Arrange for alternate means of transportation
  • Refrain from consuming drugs or alcohol, or do so responsibly
  • Be attentive to your guests' behaviour and appearance. Don't provide alcohol or drugs to a guest who is underage and/or appears intoxicated
  • Don't combine alcohol or drugs with other activities
  • Stop serving alcohol hours before the end of the event

To deal with peer pressure

Sometimes we can feel pressured into doing something we don't want to do for fear of being rejected from the group or being considered, "different". Resisting peer pressure can be a good thing, especially when it comes to impaired driving.

It starts with you

You can have a positive influence on your peers. If you have a strong stance on impaired driving, others may follow suit. For example, if you refuse to get into a vehicle with someone who is impaired, others will likely follow your lead.

Making informed decisions

Most people will feel pressured to drink or do drugs at some point in their lives. Some may feel that they are still okay to drive. Before you choose to consume drugs or alcohol, make sure you:

  • Know your limits
  • Understand what you are comfortable doing and not doing
  • Know how to communicate this to others

Saying no

There are many ways you can say no to consuming drugs or alcohol. For example:

  • "I think I'll pass it's not really my kinda thing."
  • "No, I'm good. But thanks anyway!"

If someone keeps trying to pressure you, you could ask them to respect you by not making you do something you're not comfortable with. Walk away from the situation and remember that:

  • You're not alone. Reach out to someone you trust, such as a friend or a family member
  • 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
  • A good friend will respect your opinion don't be afraid to stand up for your beliefs

For more information