Road Safety

Questions and Answers

Alcohol and Drugs

Q
How does alcohol affect a person?

Alcohol is a drug that is quickly absorbed into the body through the stomach and small intestines. Carried by the bloodstream, the alcohol reaches all parts of the body and significantly affects the central nervous system.

Alcohol reduces the 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 hampered.

Q
How do drugs affect a person?

Prescription drugs such as tranquilizers, antidepressants and sleeping pills can affect your driving ability even if taken in the prescribed dosage. Discuss the possible side 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.

Q
In Manitoba, do impaired driving laws apply to off-road vehicles such as snowmobiles and ATV’s?

Manitoba's impaired driving laws apply to the operation of all motorized vehicles, so you have to be aware of the consequences even when you operate other types of motorized vehicles such as off-road vehicles (snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes), tractors and other special mobile machines (combines, front-end loaders, forklifts, graders and cranes).

Sanctions also apply to situations where a person operates a vessel, an aircraft or 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.

Q
Does alcohol affect men and women the same way, or is there a difference?

If a male and a female of the same weight consumed the same amount of alcohol, the female will have a higher blood alcohol concentration when compared to her male counterpart. This is because females generally have about 20 per cent more body fat than males and alcohol is not fat-soluble.

Q
What happens if I am found to be driving with a blood alcohol concentration between .05 and .08?

If you are operating a motorized vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration between .05 and .08 or fail a physical coordination test or drug recognition evaluation, you 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 you have received within a 10-year period:

  • 72-hour driver’s licence suspension for a first occurrence
  • 15-day driver’s licence suspension for a second occurrence
  • 30-day driver’s licence suspension for a third occurrence
  • 60-day driver’s licence suspension for fourth and subsequent occurrences
  • 7-day driver’s licence suspension for a first occurrence with a person under the age of 16 in the vehicle

If you have received two or more suspensions within a 10-year period, you are also required to complete an Impaired Driver Assessment at the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba at your own expense.

Receiving a Tiered Administrative Licence Suspension lowers your Driver Safety Rating by five levels. You may also be subject to a Driver Improvement and Control intervention, which could range from a warning letter to a show cause hearing, at which time a further driver’s licence suspension would be considered.

You will also be required to pay a driver’s licence reinstatement charge.

Q
What happens if I am found to have a blood alcohol concentration over .08 while driving?

You will receive an immediate three-month Administrative Licence Suspension. This suspension also applies if you refuse to provide a breath or blood sample to police, refuse to perform a physical coordination test or drug recognition evaluation, or refuse to follow a police officer’s instructions regarding either test. Receiving this suspension lowers your Driver Safety Rating by five levels. You will also be required to pay 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 the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba at your expense
  • participation in Manitoba’s Ignition Interlock Program
Q
What’s the best way to rid the body of the effects of alcohol?

The best bet is to wait it out. Drinking coffee, taking showers or getting fresh air does not reduce a person's blood alcohol concentration.

Q
Will drinking only beer reduce a person’s chance of becoming drunk compared to the hard stuff like rye/scotch?

A 355 ml bottle of beer, a 150 ml glass of wine, or a 45 ml of rum and coke all have the same alcohol content. The volume of the liquor is different but each drink has the same amount of alcohol.

Q
If I have food in my stomach should it help minimize my risk of alcohol impairment?

Having food in your stomach will not prevent you from becoming impaired by the alcohol. It will only delay the alcohol from entering your system but it won't prevent you from getting drunk.


Drowsy Driving

Q
Can over-the-counter medications contribute to drowsy driving collisions?

Be aware of the possible side effects of medications as some of them can cause drowsiness. If you must drive, it’s best to check with your doctor or pharmacist to minimize your risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. It’s also wise to read the labels of any medications to ensure that they don’t have a sedative effect.

Q
Will drinking lots of coffee help minimize the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel?

The trouble with coffee or caffeine is that, if you want to sleep, coffee will interfere with your ability to get a good night's rest. Unfortunately, if you want to stay awake and alert, drinking coffee or drinks that contain caffeine will not overcome the sleepiness. Caffeine may help with short-term alertness but it won’t be much help during a long drive. Getting a proper night's rest before you get underway is a better solution.

Q
What is a micro-sleep and what is its connection to driving?

A micro-sleep occurs when a person needing rest falls into a momentary sleep (lasting a few seconds). If a micro-sleep occurs while driving it can significantly increase your chances of getting into a collision. For example, during a micro-sleep a driver travelling at 100 km/h can cover a distance of over 111 meters, that's roughly the length of a football field. A momentary lapse of attention by a driver can be catastrophic.