While the Canadian Criminal Code sets out the federal impaired driving offences, provinces and territories have authority over: licensing of drivers; the regulation of highways, vehicle ownership, automobile insurance, and traffic enforcement; and legislation dealing with civil liability, victim support programs and victim compensation.

Each jurisdiction can enact legislation and programs that minimize impaired driving and better safeguard victims. In fact, much of the recent decrease in impaired driving deaths and the progress made in supporting victims is the result of provincial/territorial initiatives.

However, major challenges remain. Canada’s impaired driving record is still poor compared to other similar democracies.

Since 1998, MADD Canada has conducted regular reviews of provincial/territorial impaired driving legislation. Previously referred to as the Rating the Provinces report, the review’s purpose has been to identify effective measures that the provinces/territories could implement to reduce impaired driving and support victims.

The Top Ten Report: Provincial/Territorial Measures to Minimize Impaired Driving and Support Victims

MADD Canada’s latest recommendations are offered in The Top Ten Report:  Provincial/Territorial Measures to Minimize Impaired Driving and Support Victims.

The report provides each province/territory with an individualized set of 10 recommendations, including three priority recommendations, which address what MADD Canada believes to be the most pressing concerns in each jurisdiction. The overall provincial/territorial recommendations are briefly outlined below. For the specific recommendations for each province or territory, please see the full report.

The report reflects MADD Canada’s particular concern about impaired driving among young and novice drivers, a group that has been dramatically over-represented in impairment-related crash deaths and injuries. It also reflects the preference for provincial administrative measures, rather than criminal or court-based sanctions, for impaired driving offenders who have not caused a crash resulting in a death or injury. Recent experience in British Columbia and Alberta indicate that immediate roadside administrative measures are far less labour intensive and appear to be more effective than criminal proceedings in deterring impaired driving. (This emphasis on provincial administrative sanctions is not inconsistent with our efforts to ensure that repeat impaired driving offenders and impaired drivers who cause fatal or personal injury crashes are held criminally responsible and are appropriately sanctioned.)

Finally, some of the recommendations to the provinces and territories build on federal measures implemented as part of Bill C-46, which was passed in 2018. In order to maximize the benefits of those federal measures, provinces and territories may need to enhance police training, resources and roadside testing for drugged driving, and implement comprehensive mandatory alcohol screening programs.

  1. Minimum age of 16 to start the GLP and a minimum 12-month duration for Stage 1 (adult supervising driver), regardless of whether the applicant has completed or is enrolled in a driver education course.
  2. Minimum 24-month duration for Stage 2 of the GLP, regardless of whether the applicant has completed or is enrolled in a driver education course. Night-time driving and passenger limits for Stage-2 drivers, subject to limited exceptions (e.g. drivers who are 22 or older, and drivers who are supervised or are driving for employment purposes). 
  3. Prohibition on being positive for alcohol or any non-prescription drug for all GLP drivers, regardless of whether their driving ability is impaired or affected by alcohol or drugs. 
  4. Mandatory 30-day Administrative Licence Suspension (ALS), 7-day Administrative Vehicle Impoundment (AVI) and restarting of the relevant GLP stage for GLP drivers who violate the prohibition on being positive for alcohol or non-prescription drugs. 
  5. Prohibition on being positive for alcohol or any non-prescription drug for fully licensed drivers who are under the age of 22 or who have less than 5 years of driving experience.
  6. Mandatory 30-day ALS, 7-day AVI and 1-year extension of the zero alcohol and drug limit for fully licensed drivers under the age of 22 or with less than 5 years of driving experience who violate the alcohol or non-prescription drug prohibition.  
  1. Mandatory 24-hour ALS and discretionary AVI for drivers who are reasonably believed to be affected by alcohol.
  2. Mandatory 7-day ALS and AVI for drivers who register a BAC of .05% to .079% on an approved screening device (ASD) or who fail an alcohol-related standardized field sobriety test (SFST).
  3. Drivers with a BAC of .05% or more should be informed of their right to take a second roadside ASD test on a different device. Drivers who fail an alcohol-related SFST should be informed of their right to take a roadside ASD.
  4. Mandatory monetary penalties and licence reinstatement fees for drivers who register a BAC of .05% to .079% or who fail an alcohol-related SFST.
  5. Escalating ALSs, AVIs and mandatory remedial requirements for repeat occurrences within 10 years.
  1. Mandatory 24-hour ALS and discretionary AVI for drivers who are reasonably believed to be affected by a drug. 
  2. Mandatory 7-day ALS and AVI for drivers who fail a drug-related SFST or oral fluid drug test. 
  3. Drivers who fail a drug-related SFST should be informed of their right to submit to a drug recognition evaluation (DRE). Drivers who fail an oral fluid drug test should be informed of their right to submit to a blood-drug test.
  4. Mandatory monetary penalties and licence reinstatement fees for drivers who fail an oral fluid drug test or a drug-related SFST. 
  5. Escalating ALSs, AVIs and mandatory remedial requirements for repeat occurrences within 10 years.
  1. Mandatory roadside 90-day ALS and 30-day AVI for drivers who register a BAC of .08% or more on an ASD, subject to the drivers being informed of their right to take a second roadside ASD test on a different device. To maximize enforcement resources, administrative sanctions alone should be imposed on drivers who do not have a prior provincial 90-day ALS or federal impaired driving conviction, did not cause a fatal or personal injury crash and did not have a passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle. 
  2. Mandatory 90-day ALS and 30-day AVI for drivers who register a BAC of .08% or more on an “approved instrument” (i.e. evidentiary breath testing machine) or who are charged with an alcohol-related Criminal Code impaired driving offence. 
  3. Mandatory 90-day ALS and 30-day AVI for drivers who fail a DRE, test above the prescribed blood-drug limits, or are charged with a drug-related Criminal Code impaired driving offence.
  4. Mandatory 90-day ALS and 30-day AVI for drivers who fail or refuse, without a reasonable excuse, to submit to any required impairment-related test or examination. (i.e. an ASD test, an evidentiary breath or blood-alcohol test, a SFST, an oral fluid drug test, a DRE, or a blood-drug test).
  5. Mandatory monetary penalties and licence reinstatement fees. 
  6. Mandatory remedial requirements, including a minimum alcohol interlock order of 6 months for drivers who receive an alcohol-related, 90-day ALS or who are assessed as having an alcohol problem. 
  7. Escalating ALSs, AVIs and mandatory remedial requirements for repeat occurrences within 10 years.
  1. Mandatory 1-year ALS for drivers convicted of a first federal impaired driving offence, other than the low per se blood-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) offence (i.e. driving with 2 – 4.99 nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood).
  2. Mandatory 3 and 10-year ALSs, respectively for drivers convicted of a second and subsequent federal impaired driving offence within 10 years.
  3. Mandatory alcohol and/or drug assessment, and the successful completion of any recommended treatment or other remedial program prior to relicensing.
  1. Mandatory 1-year interlock order for drivers convicted of a first federal alcohol-related driving offence. 
  2. Mandatory 3 and 5-year interlock orders, respectively for drivers convicted of a second or third federal alcohol-related impaired driving offence within 10 years. 
  3. Successful completion of the provincial interlock program prior to relicensing for all alcohol-related Criminal Code impaired driving offenders. 
  4. The interlock order should remain in effect until the interlock data log indicates that the offender has addressed any underlying alcohol problem and no longer poses a significant risk of reoffending. 
  5. First offenders should be immediately eligible to enter the provincial interlock program.  The “hard” provincial licence suspension for second and third offenders should be limited to 3 and 6  months, respectively. 
  1. Enact legislation requiring the police to refer victims and survivors to victim services and to inform them of their right to information about their cases. 
  2. Recognize victims and survivors of impaired driving as victims of violence. Ensure that the mandates of the provincially funded victim services include victims and survivors of impaired driving.
  3. Install provincial monuments for victims and survivors of impaired driving and establish an impaired driving road sign program.
  4. Fund programs that facilitate voluntary communication between victims and survivors of serious crimes and the responsible offender(s). This program should include victims and survivors of impaired driving
  1. Provide trauma counselling to those injured in impairment-related crashes and to families of those killed, when no other financial support is available.
  2. Provide financial assistance for travel expenses to enable victims of impaired driving and their families to attend and participate in criminal justice proceedings.
  3. Provide funding to victims and survivors of impaired driving to enable them to attend their first MADD Canada Victims Conference.
  4. Permit victims and survivors of impaired driving and their families to access provincial programs that provide compensation to victims of crime.
  5. Increase mandatory third-party automobile insurance coverage to at least $500,000. 
  1. Implement the widespread use of the federal MAS provisions.
  2. Develop an education, assessment, treatment, and early licence re-instatement program for federal drug-impaired driving offenders.
  3. Ensure that there are enough qualified drug recognition evaluators and approved oral fluid drug test kits to enforce the provincial and federal drug impaired-driving laws throughout the province.
  4. Establish an effective system for drawing blood samples from suspected drug-impaired drivers and ensure that the samples are analyzed in a timely fashion.
  5. In provinces with private automobile insurance, limit the surcharge that is imposed on impaired driving offenders who are enrolled in an alcohol interlock program. In provinces with government automobile insurance ensure that the surcharge on federal impaired driving offenders adequately reflects the seriousness of their conduct and the additional traffic risks that they pose.
  6. Introduce provincial-wide legislation or regulations permitting the establishment of ride-sharing programs that do not require drivers to have a commercial driver’s licence.
  7. Ensure that all levels of the court provide complete conviction and sentencing data in a timely manner by calendar year for all impaired driving cases.