March 1

The Legal Consequences of DUI: What You Need to Know


Most people know that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) is a serious offence, but many do not know the actual legal consequences. The fines and penalties involved will depend on your location and the severity of the offence. In most circumstances, the penalties for DUI will be quite harsh and possibly life-altering. In this post, we’re going to discuss the legal consequences of DUI in Manitoba. If you’ve been convicted of impaired driving, it’s important to know what financial and legal penalties you will be facing. You may need to contact a lawyer to come up with the best outcome for your specific case.

As per the Canadian Criminal Code, impaired driving, or a DUI, is defined as when a person operates or “controls” a motorized vehicle, on or off the road, while his or her ability to do so is impaired by drugs or alcohol. The consequences of impaired driving can result in the suspension of your driver’s licence, fines, a criminal record, and even potential jail time. The severity of the consequences can depend on several factors, including if this was a first-time offence or if any harm resulted as a result of your impaired driving.

Impaired driving is considered a crime and you can be charged with a criminal offence if:

  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or higher (meaning you have 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood)  
  • You have over 2 ng (nanograms) of THC (the psychoactive substance in cannabis) per ml of blood
  • There is any detectable amount of other drugs such as (but not limited to) LSD, psilocin, or methamphetamine in your system.

These are the limits for which you can be charged with a criminal offence. Even if you don’t reach these thresholds, you can still receive penalties for impaired driving. If you are stopped by law enforcement and suspected of driving impaired, you can receive an automatic 24-hour suspension of your driver’s licence.

Manitoba uses a Tiered Administrative License Suspensions system. The tiered suspensions can last anywhere from 72 hours to 60 days. This can apply to you if:

  • You register a “warn” on a breathalyzer test or breath screening device (a BAC between .05 and .08).
  • You fail an oral fluid drug screening.
  • You fail a physical coordination test administered by a trained officer.
  • The officer believes you are too impaired to perform a physical coordination test or comply with the demand to provide a breath, oral fluid, or blood sample.

The amount of time your suspension will last depends on how many suspensions you’ve had in a ten-year period. If it is your first offence, you will receive an immediate 3-day driver’s licence suspension. A second offence within ten years will result in an immediate 15-day suspension. A third offence within ten years will result in an immediate 30-day suspension. If it is your fourth (or more) offence within ten years, you will receive an immediate 60-day licence suspension.  

When your driver’s licence has been suspended you may not drive any type of motorized vehicle, on or off the road for the duration of the suspension. Your vehicle may be removed or stored at your expense. You will be subject to a licence reinstatement charge and will need to take the proper steps to have your licence reinstated. You may be required to attend a mandatory impaired driver’s assessment, conducted by the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM), at your own expense. Any suspension of your licence will result in a 5-point drop on the Driver Safety Rating system.

If you’ve been charged with DUI, even for the first time, the penalties can be quite severe. If your BAC registers at .08 or higher, or you refuse a breathalyzer you can be convicted of DUI. If charged, you will receive a minimum mandatory fine of $1000. Your licence will be suspended for a minimum of one year. Once your suspension period has been completed, you may face a minimum of one year driving a car fitted with an ignition interlock device, meaning that each time you drive your vehicle you will have to provide a breath sample with no trace of alcohol for the vehicle to start. The approximate cost to fit your vehicle is $1500 and will be paid at your expense. If you are caught driving a vehicle without an ignition interlock device during this time you may face fines of up to $5000 and up to a year in jail. Assuming no bodily harm was caused, first-time offenders rarely have to serve jail time.   

Each subsequent time you are charged with impaired driving, your penalties will be more severe and you will receive considerably less leniency from the legal system. If you are a second-time offender you will receive a minimum $1000 fine, a minimum of 30 days in jail, and a two-year suspension of your driver’s licence, followed by a period of time where you will be required to drive with a vehicle fitted with an ignition interlock device. You may also receive a criminal record which can have lifelong effects on your ability to work and travel. 

 If you are charged a third time with impaired driving, you will receive a minimum $1000 fine (although it will likely be much higher), a minimum of 120 days in jail, and a minimum 3-year driver’s licence suspension (although it may be more). A fourth charge may result in a lifetime suspension of your driver’s licence.  

If another person has been harmed as a result of your impaired driving, you may face up to 10 years in jail. If you are charged with DUI with the death of another person resulting from your actions you may be charged with manslaughter and face life in prison.

Drunk and impaired driving is one of the most common criminal offences. The only way to ensure you avoid a DUI charge is to never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Everybody’s body reacts differently to substances and there is no way to know if you are over the legal limits unless tested. Even if you are technically under the legal limits, you can still be charged if a law enforcer suspects you of driving impaired. If you’ve been charged with a criminal offence such as driving impaired, it’s important to know what legal consequences you may be facing and your legal rights as a citizen. You will likely want to consider hiring an experienced defence lawyer with knowledge of all laws and procedures to help you achieve the best outcome for your case.    


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