The Difference Between Over 80 and Impaired Driving

You’ve just been charged with Over 80, but what does that mean? It’s a DUI (drinking and driving) charge but how does it differ from impaired driving? If you’ve been charged with Over 80 or impaired driving in Toronto or anywhere else in Ontario, call Erickson Law today for expert legal defense.

What is the difference between Over 80 and Impaired Driving (DUI)?

It is a criminal offense in Canada to operate a motor vehicle while your blood alcohol concentration (or “BAC”) is over 80 mg of alcohol per 100 mL of blood. This limit is often referred to as “Over 80”. While everyone’s alcohol tolerance and ability to drive is different, it is against the law to drive with a BAC “Over 80”. However, your ability to drive can be impaired even if your BAC is less than this level. In fact, toxicologists have determined that some people can be impaired with BAC as low as 50 mg per 100 mL of blood while others don’t become impaired until their BAC reaches much higher.

Your blood alcohol concentration (or “BAC”) depends on several different factors, such as how much alcohol you’ve consumed, how much time has passed since finished your last drink, your gender, your weight, how quickly the alcohol was absorbed into your blood system, and how fast your body disposes or eliminates alcohol.

So what happens if you were pulled over and charged with “Over 80” but you weren’t drunk, or if you were charged with impaired driving but your BAC is not over 80? What is the difference between these charges? Over 80 refers to when you have over 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. Impaired driving refers to driving while your ability to do so was impaired by alcohol and/or a drug. Depending on your alcohol tolerance, you may be impaired even if your BAC is less than 80 mg per 100 mL of blood. That being said, it is still illegal to drive with a BAC over 80 mg per 100 mL of blood.

The biggest difference between the two charges is alcohol tolerance. You may be able to drink enough alcohol to put you well over the 80 mg limit without actually becoming intoxicated, or you may be well under the limit and be completely impaired. If you are found to be Over 80, then you will be given the Over 80 charge. If you are found to be under the limit but there is evidence of impairment, then you will be charged with impaired driving.

Providing a Sample

If you are pulled over and an officer has a reasonable suspicion that you have alcohol in your body, the officer will have grounds to demand that you provide a breath sample at the road side. If you blow a “Fail”, the officer will have reasonable grounds to arrest you and demand that you provide two or more breath samples at the police station.

Were you or a loved one charged with impaired driving in Toronto and need a criminal defense lawyer? Call Erickson Law today at (416) 363-3612.