Can I pursue a damage claim against drivers who blow < .08?

Annually, approximately 22 Nova Scotia residents are killed in auto accidents where alcohol consumption was a factor. To help combat the problem, the province began several initiatives to deter driving while impaired.

Together with Campaign 911 and a program for installing alcohol ignition interlock devices, the province is increasing suspensions for low blood alcohol content. This brings Nova Scotia in line with most other jurisdictions in Canada that imposed administrative sanctions for BAC of .05. Saskatchewan goes even farther, as sanctions begin at .04 BAC.

Blood alcohol levels are measured by the amount of milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. Under Canadian law, the limits are set at 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. Nova Scotia issues suspensions between 50-80 mg.

Those who blow over .08 will have their licence suspended for 90 days. Reinstatement conditions will also apply. Criminal charges apply to those caught driving with a BAC higher than .08. However, those who get in a wreck yet still blow below .05 may face charges of impaired driving if alcohol is found to have contributed to the accident.

The penalties for low BAC are as follows:

  • Licence suspended for seven days for first offence
  • Licence suspended 15 days for the second offence
  • Licence suspended 30 days for their third offence.

All will have to pay fees to reinstate their driving privileges.

Despite Nova Scotia cracking down on low BAC drivers, it is inevitable that accidents with injuries attributed to impaired driving will continue to occur. Those suffering from injuries due to accidents with drivers who have been drinking can seek civil relief from the courts. Financial compensation for injuries and expenses stemming from the collision with the impaired driver may be awarded in a judgment or settlement.

Source:, “Low BAC Q&A,” accessed Aug. 21, 2015

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