Just Sitting In Your Car
It would not occur to most people that they could be charged with impaired if they just happen to use their car as a convenient place to sit while talking to someone and having a drink, in their driveway, or at their cottage or campsite.
The law sees this as you being in "care or control" of a motor vehicle while drinking. It also applies to a boat, where the boat is "underway" and a snowmobile whether or not it's in motion.
If a police officer has "reasonable grounds" to believe you are violating this law, the officer can search you and your car or boat without a warrant.
If you are pulled over by the police and they happen to see an open bottle of liquor in your car, they can ticket you under the Liquor Licence Act. The fine is $180. The Liquor Licence Act states that you cannot have readily available liquor in your vehicle if the container seal has been broken.
More than likely the officer will also do a breathalyzer test on you. Convictions under the Liquor Licence Act do not appear on your driver abstract and do not affect your insurance.
Someone In Your Household Is Charged With Impaired
If someone who is named on your insurance policy has been charged with impaired, your insurance company could cancel your policy. Regardless, your rate will sky rocket as a driver on your policy now has been charged under the criminal code. If they had an accident, that accident will be on your claims history.
A member of your household may not be listed on your policy, because they have their own policy, but your insurance company may have noted that they are in the household. In that case, your insurance company may wish to cancel or non-renew your policy. In this case you may try to get that driver excluded from driving your car. Ask your broker about the OPCF 28 Excluded Driver endorsement.
If You Are Charged With Impaired
Charges for impaired driving and driving with over 80 milligrams of alcohol are covered under The Criminal Code of Canada. Those convictions appear on your driver abstract and affect your driving record and insurance rates.
A ninety day licence suspension is automatic with these charges, then your licence is returned to you until your court date, often four to six months or more from that day. If you are convicted of the charge, there is a minimum one year licence suspension.
The conviction of a criminal code offence and licence suspension and the reason for the suspension, being alcohol related, appear on your driver abstract for 3 years and also impacts your insurance rates. If you had an accident, it would stay on your claims history for 6 years.
Insurance Rate Comparison
Here is a comparison of 30 insurance companies rates for a 20 year old and a 40 year old driver, for a clean record and with a conviction for impaired driving.
20 Year-Old Male
Record Lowest Rate High Rate Clean Record $4,570 $10,240 DUI Conviction $11,955 $19,169 DUI + Accident $14,941 $20,972
40 Year-Old Male
Record Lowest Rate High Rate Clean Record $1,434 $2,398 DUI Conviction $4,858 $10,513 DUI + Accident $7,539 $12,231