Driving any vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs is dangerous and against the law. Manitoba’s tough impaired driving laws apply when operating all motor vehicles including infrastructure equipment, agricultural equipment and off-road vehicles, as well as vessels*, aircrafts and railway equipment, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
*A vessel includes all craft usually larger than a row boat designed to navigate on water, including hovercrafts.
Impaired driving laws
Manitoba continues to have among the toughest penalties in Canada for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Drug and alcohol restriction – Novice drivers cannot have drugs or alcohol in their system. Anyone who violates this who violate the zero blood alcohol concentration restriction will:
- receive an immediate 24-hour roadside suspension
- have their driving record reviewed by our Driver Improvement and Control Program to determine if an additional suspension should apply
- be required to pay a driver’s licence reinstatement charge
Drug Impairment – All drivers suspected by police of being under the influence of any drug can receive an immediate 24-hour roadside licence suspension. Novice drivers who receive a 24-hour roadside suspension will pay a licence reinstatement charge and have their driving record reviewed by our Driver Improvement and Control Program to determine if an additional suspension should apply.
Tiered Administrative Licence Suspensions – Drivers operating a motorized vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration between .05 and .079 or who fail a drug screening test, physical coordination test or drug recognition evaluation are subject to an immediate Tiered Administrative Licence Suspension. Tiered Administrative Licence Suspensions are progressively longer suspensions ranging from 72 hours to 60 days depending on how many previous suspensions have been issued to the driver within a 10-year period.
Receiving a Tiered Administrative Licence Suspension moves a driver down the Driver Safety Rating scale five levels. Drivers who receive this suspension may also be subject to a Driver Improvement and Control intervention. This could range from a warning letter to a further driver’s licence suspension. They would also be required to pay a driver’s licence reinstatement charge.
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 (AFM) at their own expense.
Three-month Administrative Licence Suspension – You will receive a three-month Administrative Licence Suspension if:
- your blood alcohol concentration is equal to or over .08
- your blood drug concentration is over 5 nanograms of THC
- your combined blood alcohol concentration is over .05 and your blood drug concentration is more than 2.5 ng of THC
- you refuse to provide a breath, saliva or blood sample to police
- you refuse to perform a physical coordination test or drug recognition evaluation, or refuse to follow a police officer's instructions regarding either test
- you have any concentration of illegal drugs in your system
Receiving this suspension lowers a driver’s rating on the Driver Safety Rating scale by five levels and requires payment of a driver’s licence reinstatement charge.
Additional consequences may include:
- being charged under the Criminal Code of Canada
- vehicle impoundment (except special mobile machines)
- a mandatory Impaired Driver Assessment at your expense
- participation in Manitoba’s Ignition Interlock Program
Criminal Code offences – Criminal Code offences include the following:
- driving, or having care and control of a vehicle, while impaired by drugs or alcohol
- impaired driving causing bodily harm or death
- driving with a blood alcohol concentration equal to or over .08
- driving with a blood drug concentration over 5 ng of THC
- driving with a combined blood alcohol concentration over .05 and blood drug concentration over 2.5 ng of THC
- driving with any concentration of illegal drugs in your system
- refusing to provide a breath, saliva or blood sample to police upon request
- refusing to perform a physical coordination test or drug recognition evaluation, or refusing to follow a police officer’s instructions regarding either test
If you are convicted of an impaired driving-related Criminal Code offence, you will face sanctions such as:
- moving an additional five, 10 or 15 levels down the Driver Safety Rating scale
- a significant court-imposed fine
- possible imprisonment
- a court-imposed driving prohibition
- mandatory driver’s licence suspension under The Highway Traffic Act
- possible participation in Manitoba’s Ignition Interlock Program
- possible vehicle forfeiture
Note: A discharge under the Criminal Code for certain driving-related offences may be treated as a conviction under The Highway Traffic Act.
Tranquillizers, antidepressants, sleeping pills and similar drugs can affect driving ability even if taken in the prescribed dosage. If you drive while impaired by any medication, you can be charged with impaired driving and face the same consequences as if you were impaired by alcohol. Discuss the possible effects of any medication with your doctor or pharmacist.
Illicit drugs may cause hallucinations, hostility and aggressiveness in addition to dulling normal thought processes and slowing down eye-hand coordination. If you are found to be driving while under the influence of illegal drugs, you will be charged with impaired driving.
Never mix drugs and alcohol - even in small quantities.
For information contact:
Addictions Foundation of Manitoba
Phone: 204-944-6200 or toll-free 1-866-638-2561
Prevent other people from driving while impaired
When you host a party, you can also take steps to discourage guests from driving home if they have had too much to drink or have consumed cannabis. Here are some suggestions:
- Set up “house rules” that make driving home after drinking too much not acceptable. Tell your guests about these rules before they arrive. Then they can make alternative plans for going home if they plan to drink.
- Offer guests fruit juices, mineral water and soft drinks as alternatives to alcoholic beverages.
- Don't serve "one for the road". It's a good idea to close the bar at least one hour before the party ends. Encourage guests to stay for a while by serving food and tea, coffee or other non-alcoholic beverages.
- Encourage guests to take a vehicle for hire, or arrange for a designated driver.
- Be prepared to have some guests stay overnight if necessary.
You don't have to stop with just yourself or family and friends. Those of you who belong to groups or clubs can challenge other members to share a leading role in preventing impaired driving. Many groups and organizations sponsor parties and other social events where alcohol is served. All members can participate in making sure no one drives after drinking. People can take turns not drinking so they may drive others home.