Government announces new alcohol-impaired driving laws will come into force

News release

Reformed laws will help save Canadian lives on the road

December 4, 2018 - Ottawa, Ontario - Department of Justice Canada

The Government of Canada has taken important steps to strengthen the criminal justice system to better protect Canadians from impaired driving. 

Today, as we mark Safe Driving Week, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada reminds Canadians that changes to the laws relating to alcohol-impaired driving in the Criminal Code will take effect December 18.  These reforms build on the recent changes to strengthen the law of drug-impaired driving. 

Importantly, the alcohol-impaired driving reforms will implement mandatory alcohol screening in Canada.  Mandatory alcohol screening will authorize law enforcement to demand a breath sample at the roadside from any driver that has been lawfully stopped. This is a proven traffic safety measure that has had significant success in preventing road deaths in countries such as Australia and Ireland.

The new law will repeal and replace the entire Criminal Code transportation regime, resulting in a modernized, simplified, and comprehensive approach to transportation offences, including impaired driving.  This area is one of the most litigated in the Criminal Code. The new legal framework will increase deterrence and the detection of impaired drivers, and simplify the investigation and proof of the impaired driving offences resulting in shorter trials and reduced delays. 

Part 1 of the former Bill C-46 came into force on June 21 and was about drug-impaired driving. Part 2 focuses on alcohol-impaired driving and will come into force December 18, 2018. Together, both sets of measures will save lives.  


“I am tremendously proud to have introduced this legislation and see it passed into law. I believe these reforms will result in fewer road deaths and fewer Canadian families devastated by the effects of an impaired driver. This is one of the most significant changes to the laws related to impaired driving in more than 40 years and is another way that we are modernizing the criminal justice system.”

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., M.P. Q.C.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. Mandatory alcohol screening will save lives in our country, as it has in Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and other countries. Impaired driving is 100% preventable - don’t put yourself and others in danger by drinking and driving.”

The Honourable Ralph Goodale,
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

“Giving law enforcement the ability to demand a breath sample from anyone following a lawful stop will make it easier to detect impaired drivers and get these drivers off of our roads. Those who get behind the wheel after using alcohol, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, will face serious legal consequences. Do your part in keeping yourself and loved ones safe and don’t mix alcohol or drugs with driving.”

The Honourable Bill Blair,
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction

Quick facts

  • The new law was passed by Parliament on June 21, with Part 1 having come into force upon Royal Assent, and Part II coming into force December 18, 2018

  • In 2017, there were more than 69,000 impaired driving incidents reported by the police, including almost 3,500 drug-impaired driving incidents.

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For more information, media may contact:

Célia Canon
Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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