The dangers of drinking and driving

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Driving any vehicle while impaired by alcohol is not only extremely dangerous – it’s a crime. Manitoba takes a strong stance against drinking and driving with some of the toughest penalties in the country. You could be fined and possibly jailed. You could lose your licence and your vehicle. You could lose your job or be critically hurt. If you are in an accident, your insurance coverage can be denied. Worse still, you could lose your life or take the life of someone else.

Drinking and driving laws

Impaired driving is a serious threat to public safety with significant sanctions and consequences.

Immediate roadside prohibition

As of Dec. 16, 2019, The Highway Traffic Act is amended to adopt an immediate roadside prohibition approach to deal with persons driving under the influence of alcohol. This new approach and tough new sanctions take effect right at roadside, based upon the results of an approved screening device (ASD).

Register a “warn” - Blood alcohol concentration between .05 and .079

If you register a “warn” on an ASD, you will face a Tiered Administrative Licence Suspension ranging from 72 hours to 60 days, depending on how many previous suspensions have been issued within a 10-year period. You will also move five levels down the Driver Safety Rating scale and be required to pay a driver’s licence reinstatement charge.

In addition, you will face new enhanced roadside sanctions, including:

  • an administrative penalty of at least $400
  • vehicle impoundment on a first offence

Sanctions increase with subsequent offences. Drivers receiving two or more suspensions within a 10-year period are also required to complete an Impaired Driver Assessment at the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba at their own expense.

Refuse or fail

If you refuse to provide a breath sample or register a “fail” on an ASD, you will face a three-month Administrative Licence Suspension, mandatory ignition interlock participation, vehicle impoundment, movement of 10 levels down the Driver Safety Rating scale, and a driver’s licence reinstatement charge. In addition, you could face new enhanced roadside sanctions, including an administrative penalty of $700.

See more information about immediate roadside prohibitions from the Province of Manitoba.

Blood alcohol concentration equal to or over .08

If you are found to be driving over the legal limit by the results of a breathalyzer, you will receive an immediate three-month Administrative Licence Suspension. You will also be required to pay a driver’s licence reinstatement charge. Additional consequences include:

  • potential charges under the Criminal Code of Canada
  • vehicle impoundment
  • a mandatory Impaired Driver Assessment at the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba at your expense
  • participation in Manitoba’s Ignition Interlock Program
  • moving down the Driver Safety Rating scale

To find out more, see information about penalties or visit the Province of Manitoba website.

NOTE: Manitoba’s tough impaired driving laws apply when operating all motor vehicles. This includes infrastructure equipment, agricultural equipment and off-road vehicles, as well as vessels (i.e., boats and hovercraft), aircraft and railway equipment.

If you drink, don’t drive

Alcohol is a drug that is quickly absorbed into the body and significantly affects the central nervous system. Alcohol slows reaction time, distorts vision and impairs judgment. As more alcohol is consumed, a person’s ability to recognize potential problems and respond to hazards is significantly impaired. The best way to rid the body of the effects of alcohol is to wait it out. Drinking coffee, taking showers or getting fresh air does not reduce a person's blood alcohol concentration. There is no magic number of drinks guaranteed to keep you safe or out of trouble behind the wheel, except zero. If you drink, just don’t drive.

From calling a cab to staying the night, if you know you’ll be drinking, you have options to get yourself home safely without driving impaired.

Just the facts (Source: 2017 Traffic Collisions Statistics Report)

  • In 2017, drinking and driving contributed to 23 fatalities and 27 serious injuries in Manitoba.
  • On average, 25 people are killed each year and 27 are seriously injured in collisions involving drinking and driving.
  • More than half of all collisions involving alcohol impairment occur on weekends.

Programs and initiatives

Manitoba Public Insurance is dedicated to safer roads for all Manitobans. Through a variety of partnerships, we’ve developed programs and initiatives to raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of drinking and driving.


Operation Red Nose

Safe Grad

Teens Against Drinking and Driving

Report Impaired Drivers (RID) 911

Friends for Life Speaker Series

P.A.R.T.Y Program