Effective Nov. 1, the following new measures to curb alcohol-impaired driving will be in force in New Brunswick.
Consequences for alcohol-impaired driving
in New Brunswick
Short-Term Licence Suspensions
Under the Motor Vehicle Act, a driver caught with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level within the warning range of 0.05 and 0.08 is subject to a short-term suspension of their licence.
Previously, short-term licence suspensions lasted seven days and were not recorded on a driving record.
Effective Nov. 1, short-term licence suspensions will be recorded on a driving record. Penalties will escalate with each consequent offence:
- first offence within the last five years: seven-day suspension;
- second offence within the last five years: 15-day suspension;
- third or more offence within the last five years: 30-day suspension, an increased licence re-instatement fee of $230, and participation in a drinking driver education course. The driver will also be eligible for the voluntary interlock program.
Anyone caught driving impaired under the influence of alcohol can have their vehicle impounded. The impoundment program will apply to short-term licence suspensions and Criminal Code of Canada alcohol-impaired driving cases.
For a driver caught with a BAC level within the warning range of 0.05 and 0.08, vehicles will be impounded for:
- first offence within five years: three days (discretionary);
- second offence within five years: seven days (discretionary);
- third or more offences within five years: seven days (mandatory).
For a driver caught with a BAC level of over 0.08:
- First suspension for blood alcohol content (BAC) over 80mg – OR - failure or refusal to provide breath sample within 10 years: 30 days (mandatory);
- Previous suspension for blood alcohol content (BAC) over 80mg – OR - failure or refusal to provide breath sample within 10 years: 60 days (mandatory);
- There is a mandatory seven-day vehicle impoundment period for novice drivers who violate the zero tolerance rule.
Mandatory Interlock Program
An ignition interlock device prevents a driver from starting or driving a vehicle when under the influence of alcohol. Eligible drivers will have interlock devices installed in their vehicles. The driver will be issued a restricted drivers licence which allows the individual to operate only vehicles equipped with an alcohol ignition interlock device. Participants bear the cost of the program.
The device is a mechanism similar to a breathalyzer, which is installed in a vehicle's dashboard. Before the vehicle can be started, the driver must blow and hum into the device. If the analyzed result is over a programmed blood alcohol concentration, the vehicle will not start.
Effective Nov. 1, the interlock program will be mandatory for all Criminal Code of Canada alcohol-impaired driving offences.
However, the program will remain voluntary for 30-day short-term licence suspensions as well as three-month Administrative Licence Suspensions for Criminal Code offences.
The Registrar of Motor Vehicles will have authority to extend the time in program and grant exemptions, including for medical reasons. All drivers will be required to take a drinking driver education course.
24-Hour suspension for driver unfitness
Police officers have discretion under the Motor Vehicle Act to suspend a driver’s licence if they have concerns about the safety of the driver and others who share the road.
A police officer who has reasonable grounds to believe that a driver of a motor vehicle is unfit to drive the motor vehicle safely for a medical or other reason may require the driver to stop their motor vehicle for the purpose of determining whether or not there is evidence to justify that belief.
If a police officer is of the opinion that a driver is unfit to drive a motor vehicle safely for a medical or other reason, the police officer may request the driver to surrender their licence and suspend their driving privilege.