If you are under the age of 22 and have recently acquired your driver’s license, you may be eager to celebrate this achievement with friends and loved ones. However, it is crucial to prioritize safety. In Quebec, a strict regulation has been in effect since April 15, 2012. It mandates that all drivers aged 21 and under are prohibited from operating a vehicle with any detectable level of alcohol in their bloodstream. Even the slightest trace of alcohol in their system constitutes a criminal offence under this zero tolerance policy. This measure has been implemented to mitigate the occurrence of alcohol-related accidents involving young drivers while ensuring their continued mobility.
What if you have a regular driver’s license?
The zero tolerance policy affects all 21-year-old drivers, even those who possess a standard, non-probationary driver’s license. Quebec’s zero tolerance policy is not contingent on the type of driver’s license but instead focuses on the driver’s age. In practical terms, it means that even a 21-year-old driver with a “full” driver’s license remains subject to this stringent alcohol tolerance regulation. This zero tolerance extends to all drivers aged 21 and under, regardless of the vehicle they are operating, be it a passenger car, motorcycle, or any other type of vehicle.
The relevant section of the Highway Safety Code reads as follows: The following persons are prohibited from driving a road vehicle or having the care or control of it if there is any presence of alcohol in their body: (4) a person aged 21 or under who holds a driver’s licence. The article is clear and leaves no room for interpretation.
Penalties for drinking and driving under 21
Penalties for violating this zero tolerance policy are outlined in the Highway Safety Code and include the following:
- Anyone under the age of 22 who is caught with the slightest trace of alcohol will have their license suspended. The suspension is for 90 days;
- If this person is subsequently found guilty of the offence, four demerit points will be added to their driving record;
- In addition, a fine varying between $300 and $600 will be imposed on this person.
Depending on your license type and the number of demerit points you have allocated, a single offence like this could potentially lead to a license suspension. Such a consequence can have severe implications. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider alternative solutions for individuals in this situation. Opting for a taxi, Uber, or exploring alternative transportation methods is a far wiser choice than risking drinking and driving.
What to do if you violate the zero tolerance policy
The first thing to do is to contact a traffic ticket lawyer immediately. It is important to act quickly because you only have 30 days to dispute a violation. As mentioned above, drinking and driving — even under 21 — can be considered a criminal offence. So it’s important to follow the guidance and consultation of an experienced traffic lawyer.