POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 57 DRIVING AND IMPAIRMENT To operate a motor vehicle, you must be mentally alert and unimpaired. As a driver, you must be able to identify what is happening around you, predict potential outcomes, make key decisions, and respond quickly and safely. Alcohol and Drugs The degree to which alcohol and drugs affect you depends on many factors: your age; gender; physical condition, such as your height, weight, or general fitness; emotional condition, such as depression, anger, happiness, or fatigue; amount of food consumed; interactions with other substances; and other factors. Drinking and driving Drinking and driving is a high-risk behaviour that can have serious consequences for you, your passengers, and other motorists or pedestrians. Alcohol is absorbed directly into the blood stream. This means that alcoholinduced impairment begins with the first drink. Legal impairment is defined as having a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 per cent or more. However you can be charged and convicted below this level if you show other symptoms of impairment. The only way to remove alcohol from your system is through time. Your liver breaks down alcohol at the rate of .015 mg/hr. It takes more than one hour to eliminate each standard drink from your system. A standard drink is a 340 ml (12 oz.) bottle of beer, 43 ml (1.5 oz.) of spirits, or a 142 ml (5 oz.) glass of unfortified wine. They all contain the same amount of alcohol. Black coffee, cold showers, or a jog around the block won’t remove the alcohol from your system. As the effects of alcohol start to wear off, you begin to feel better or more in control. However, you are probably not sober and may still be impaired. The solution? Don’t Drink and Drive! Getting caught If a police officer or other peace officer reasonably suspects that you are impaired by alcohol, you will be ordered to supply a breath sample. There are two steps to this process. The first is a roadside screening using the SL2 unit; the second step, the breathalyzer test. The roadside test, which is normally administered in the police vehicle, indicates “pass,” “warn,” or “fail.” If the device reads “pass,” you will be permitted to leave if there are no other violations. If the device reads “warn,” meaning it registers a reading between 50 mg/100 ml of blood (.05) and 80 mg/100 ml (.08), the police may issue 7-day, 15day, or 30-day suspension of your licence based on whether or not you had any other similar incidents in the past ten years. If the device reads “fail,” you will be arrested. You must accompany the police officer to the police station or a substation where you will be asked to take a breathalyzer test. It is an offence to refuse the breathalyzer or the SL2. If you refuse, you will be charged with “failing to comply” or “refusing the breathalyzer.” A survey1 of Canadian drivers injured in 1994 indicated that 44 per cent had been drinking. Eighteen per cent had a BAC of .01-.08 per cent. A staggering 82 per cent were legally impaired, with 20 per cent having a BAC between .081-.149 per cent and 62 per cent having a BAC above .150 per cent. Anyone driving at nighttime should be aware that roughly 10 per cent of those sharing the road with you have been drinking and 3 per cent are legally impaired. continued ... Don't Drink and Drive Symbol 1 Study of the Profile of High-Risk Drivers, Transport Canada Publication #TP-13108 E, Authors: D.J.Bierness & H.M. Simpson, Performing Organization: Traffic Injury Research Foundation of Canada