POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 99 INSURANCE AND FINANCIAL CONSEQUENCES OF IMPAIRED DRIVING Insurance Consequences of Drinking and Driving • Most Canadians have some understanding that impaired driving is a criminal offence and that it carries significant penalties. It is probably safe to say that far fewer Canadians appreciate the insurance consequences of being convicted of an impaired driving offence. This is hardly surprising, considering the complexity of the provincial and territorial automobile insurance laws. • While our primary concern is with the insurance consequences of impaired driving, we have also addressed the related problem of “unauthorized driving”. We have used this term to include driving while unlicensed, suspended, disqualified, or prohibited. A majority of impaired driving offenders continue to drive, at least occasionally, while suspended or otherwise unauthorized.1 • We also discuss the legal consequences of driving without insurance, which is also all too common among impaired driving offenders. Insurance coverage and benefits • As outlined below, if a person who causes a crash is convicted of an impaired driving offence, his or her insurance coverage and no-fault benefits will be significantly reduced or denied.2 • Except for Québec, every jurisdiction denies collision coverage to impaired driving offenders for damages to their own vehicle, regardless of how much collision coverage they had purchased. • An impaired driving offender’s no-fault medical and rehabilitation benefits are denied or limited in most jurisdictions. • An impaired driving offender’s no-fault lost earnings benefits are denied in most jurisdictions. • In some jurisdictions, the estate of a deceased offender will be denied no-fault funeral expenses, and his or her dependents will be denied the death benefits that would otherwise be payable. • In most jurisdictions, impaired driving offenders are exposed to open-ended liability for third-party injuries and losses, despite having purchased mandatory and optional third-party liability coverage. • Driving while suspended or otherwise unauthorized has similar consequences on a driver’s collision coverage, no-fault benefits and third-party liability coverage. • These potentially devastating financial consequences also apply to vehicle owners when they lend their car to an individual who subsequently has an at-fault crash while impaired or unauthorized. continued ... 1 American studies indicate that as many as 75% of suspended and revoked drivers continue to drive, at least occasionally. A recent Canadian study suggests that the rate in Canada may be similar. See J. Malenfant, R. Van Houten and B. Jonah, “A Study to Measure the Incidence of Driving Under Suspension in the Greater Moncton Area” (2002), 34 Accid. Anal. and Prev. 439 at 441. 2 In most jurisdictions, insurance companies can deny or limit coverage if an individual is convicted of driving with a BAC above 0.08%, driving while impaired, or refusing to provide a breath or blood sample. In some jurisdictions, coverage may also be denied or limited if the driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs, regardless of whether criminal charges were laid or a conviction was obtained.