Yes. According to Federal law set out in the Criminal Code of Canada (CCC), it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) of .08% or higher. The CCC contains several sections related to impaired driving charges and penalties which are described below.
Charges. Section 320.14 (1) of the CCC makes it a criminal offence to drive with a BAC greater than 0.08 milligrams in one’s blood. The text of the legislation is below:
320.14 (1) Everyone commits an offence who
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.
Operation — low blood drug concentration
(4) Subject to subsection (6), everyone commits an offence who 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 and that is less than the concentration prescribed for the purposes of paragraph (1)(c).
Exception — alcohol
(5) No person commits an offence under paragraph (1)(b) if
Exception — drugs
(6) No person commits an offence under paragraph (1)(c) or subsection (4) if
Exception — combination of alcohol and drug
(7) No person commits an offence under paragraph (1)(d) if
Penalties. Also outlined in the CCC are the punishments that can be applied to those persons convicted of impaired driving. The crime of impaired driving is unique in that it is classified as a hybrid offence (meaning it can be prosecuted as either a summary conviction or an indictable offence depending on how the Crown chooses to prosecute the case). Summary conviction offences are considered lesser in nature and are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, a period of six months in jail, or both. Indictable offences are considered more serious and as a result, carry greater penalties. Due to the fact that impaired driving is a hybrid offence, it is deemed to be indictable until the Crown makes their election on how they wish to proceed. The mandatory minimum penalties are found in section 320.19 (1) of the CCC:
CCC penalties are applied equally in all jurisdictions across Canada. An individual will be charged with a CCC impaired driving offence when they are found to be driving while impaired, while they have a BAC greater than .08%, or they cause bodily injury and/or death due to impaired driving.
It should be noted that the CCC driving prohibition is distinct from the administrative driver’s licence suspensions that are applied in Canadian provinces and territories. The CCC requires a one-year driving prohibition for an impaired driving offence. If granted by the Court, the offender may be able to drive during the period of prohibition if they participate in an alcohol interlock program. For a first offence the offender must serve three months of the driving prohibition; six months for a second offence; and, 12 months for a third offence.