Changes to Impaired Driving Laws Come to New Brunswick

Changes to Impaired Driving Laws Come to New Brunswick

The Government of New Brunswick recently made revisions to the province’s Motor Vehicle Act to implement tougher penalties for those who drive under the influence of alcohol. As of November 1, 2017, New Brunswick became home to some of the toughest impaired driving penalties in the country.

Previously, New Brunswick had a seven-day licence suspension for drivers who were found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) between .05 and .08. However, the province did not have escalating sanctions for repeat offenders, nor did it have corresponding vehicle impoundments. But this is now changed.

Here’s a rundown of some of the alcohol-impaired driving provision changes to New Brunswick’s Motor Vehicle Act and the impact they could have:

“When every single impaired driving death is preventable, strong sanctions that deter drugged and drunk driving are absolutely vital.”

  • If you are convicted of driving under the influence, you risk having your vehicle impounded and your licence suspended. The length of time for the impoundment and suspension depend on the number of offences an individual has had in the last five years.
  • If you are convicted of Criminal Code of Canada alcohol-impaired driving offence, once you get your licence back, a mandatory alcohol ignition interlock device will be installed in your car. This device is similar to a breathalyzer; however it will stop your vehicle from starting if you’re over the legal limit.
  • This interlock will cost you $95 a month to rent.
  • Drivers with the interlock system will also be subject to rolling re-rests, implemented to discourage drivers from getting a friend or passenger to start their car.
  • Those caught within the BAC warning range of .05 to .08 will face longer suspensions for repeat infractions and those suspensions will be listed on their driving record. Drivers with BACs in the warn range may also face short-term vehicle impoundments.
  • If you are pulled over and a police officer is concerned about your safety or the safety of others, they have the discretion to suspend your license for up to 24 hours.
  • New drivers, in the graduated licence period, caught driving under the influence will have their license suspended for a week.
  • New drivers that are convicted of an alcohol-impaired driving offence will get a one year driving suspension, in addition to being required to re-start the process of getting their license.

While not part of the changes made to the Motor Vehicle Act, drivers should also always remember that road convictions usually result in higher insurance premiums.

Susan MacAskill, MADD Canada Atlantic Chapter Services Manager, says MADD applauds the move.

“Provinces such as British Columbia and Alberta, who have added impoundment to their vehicle roadside suspension programs within the last few years, have seen exceptional results,” she explains. “British Columbia, who made the change back in 2010, saw a 50% reduction in alcohol-related road fatalities and Alberta, a 46% decrease, within six months of strengthening their laws.”

MacAskill goes on to say that MADD Canada expects that, “These new laws will help prevent alcohol-impaired driving and related crashes, deaths and injuries in New Brunswick, but that a key area that needs to be addressed now, with the legalization of recreational cannabis on the way, is drugged driving.”

At the federal level, Bill C-46 is proposing driving limits for cannabis and new roadside tests to both it and other drugs. In fact, New Brunswick has just announced its plans to introduce legislation to address drugged driving, including immediate roadside licence suspensions and vehicle impoundments in addition to requiring young drivers to have zero drugs in their systems when driving.

“These are crucial measures to help deter and prevent drugged driving,” says MacAskill.

For full details and to learn more, you can access the New Brunswick Motor Vehicle Act here.